ACR backs hospitals’ push to extend COVID-19 public health emergency beyond July

The American Hospital Association is urging federal officials to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency beyond July 25, a move that the American College of Radiology said it supports.

AHA—which represents more than 5,000 hospitals and their imaging centers, along with 270,000 affiliated physicians—first made its plea on Friday in a letter to Health and Human Services. It noted that the declaration has granted its members flexibility to respond to the pandemic, and providers will continue requiring such support as second waves of the virus spread across the U.S.

ACR’s Cynthia Moran, executive VP of government relations, economics and health policy, echoed the hospital group’s request in a statement issued Tuesday.

“Patients are just starting to come back to hospital outpatient departments to get their mammograms and other necessary screenings. We need to ensure all physician practices have access to continued federal public health emergency protections to reassure patients that they will continue to have uninterrupted access to these valuable services,” she told Radiology Business.

In the June 19 letter, hospital association President and CEO Rick Pollack asked HHS to extend the public health emergency until several criteria are met. Those include adequate personal protective equipment supplies, the number of daily lab tests in the U.S. exceeding 500,000 per day, and deaths from COVID falling below 500 per day for two consecutive weeks.

“We anticipate the challenges associated with COVID-19 that our members and communities face every day will continue throughout several months, and potentially another entire year if we continue to experience increased COVID-19 cases,” Pollack wrote.