The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world, leading to widespread illness and death, as well as economic disruption. In response to the crisis, the U.S. government declared a public health emergency (PHE), which has allowed for the implementation of a number of blanket waivers aimed at addressing the crisis. One such blanket waiver is the Section 1135 blanket waiver under the Social Security Act.
The Section 1135 blanket waiver was created to allow for the temporary suspension of certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements during times of emergency. The purpose of this waiver is to provide greater flexibility to healthcare providers and ensure that they have the resources they need to respond to the crisis. The waiver has been critical in helping to ensure that healthcare providers have the necessary resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, including the provision of telehealth services, the use of alternative equipment, and the ability to use alternative treatments.
One of the key benefits of the Section 1135 blanket waiver is that it allows for the use of telehealth services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has relaxed restrictions on telehealth, allowing patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their own homes. This has been particularly important for elderly and immunocompromised patients who are at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19. In addition, telehealth has allowed for increased access to medical care for patients in rural and underserved areas who may not have been able to access medical care otherwise.
The Section 1135 blanket waiver has also allowed for the certification and inspection requirements for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to be temporarily suspended. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has relaxed these requirements, allowing hospitals and other healthcare facilities to respond to the crisis more quickly and efficiently. This has been critical in helping healthcare facilities to expand their capacity and provide the necessary care for COVID-19 patients.
In addition to these benefits, the Section 1135 blanket waiver has also allowed for the temporary suspension of certain PPE regulations. The HHS has relaxed restrictions on the use of PPE, allowing healthcare workers to use alternative equipment that is more readily available. This has helped to ensure that healthcare workers have the necessary equipment to protect themselves while caring for COVID-19 patients.
The Section 1135 blanket waiver has also provided greater flexibility in the treatment of patients with COVID-19. The HHS has relaxed some of its restrictions on the use of treatments, allowing healthcare providers to use alternative treatments that may be more effective. This has been critical in helping to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and reduce the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law H.R. 2716, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. This legislation provides more than $1.7 trillion to fund various aspects of the federal government, including an extension of the major telehealth waivers and the Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCaH) individual waiver that were initiated during the federal public health emergency (PHE).
Additionally, on January 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced its intent to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11, 2023, related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In conclusion, the Section 1135 blanket waiver has been critical in helping the U.S. government respond to the COVID-19 crisis. By providing greater flexibility to healthcare providers, this waiver has allowed for the rapid expansion of telehealth services, the increased use of alternative equipment and treatments, and the suspension of certain regulations that may have hindered the response to the crisis. As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, it is important that this waiver remains in place to ensure that healthcare providers have the resources they need to respond effectively.