On May 1, 2023, the White House announced that the federal government will wind down certain of its remaining COVID-19 vaccination mandates (including those for federal workers, contractors and international air travelers) effective May 11, 2023, which is the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will also “start the process” to end the vaccination requirements for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) certified healthcare facilities. Also on May 1, CMS issued a QSO Memo containing wide-reaching guidance pertaining to the end of the PHE, which indicated that further information regarding the end of the CMS COVID-19 vaccination mandate would be forthcoming after the PHE has expired. As the process and timeline for winding down the CMS vaccination mandate has not yet been released, and it is unclear how quickly it will take effect and how elimination of the mandate will impact the many CMS quality measures tied to COVID-19 vaccinations.
These announcements come on the heels of an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that CMS released on April 27, 2023, on preparing for the end of the COVID-19 PHE. The FAQs include 25 questions and answers in four categories (general, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, and private insurance). They cover issues such as cost of and reimbursement for vaccines, testing and treatment, as well as more specific topics such as telehealth; reporting requirements for nursing homes, hospitals and critical access hospitals; and the end of Medicaid continuous enrollment. Although we are still reading through the details and comparing this document to previously released information, the FAQs do not appear to include any new information.
CMS continues to maintain and update the COVID-19 resource page, which includes fact sheets on various issues related to the end of the PHE. More FAQs and announcements are likely to be released as we get closer to May 11.
McDermott and McDermott+Consulting are monitoring for further developments and will send out an update as soon as more information is available.