COVID-19 updates for May

Public health emergency extended through July 14

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the public health emergency (PHE) from April 16 through July 14, 2022.

HHS must extend the federal public health emergency (PHE) related to COVID-19 every 90 days to maintain certain health care flexibilities and waivers. In a letter to the state governors, the HHS has indicated that there will be at least a 60-day notice before the PHE ends.

As a reminder, in addition to the PHE declared by the Secretary, a national emergency was announced by the President on March 13, 2020, under the National Emergencies Act and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. That national emergency was recently extended for up to an additional year effective March 1, 2022, and at this time, the end date has not been determined.

Some federal statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to health insurers and group health plans in response to COVID-19 are intended to sunset at the end of the HHS-declared PHE, while others will no longer apply 60 days after the end of the national emergency period declared by the President. Several states continue to have separate PHE timelines.

InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer

On April 14, 2022, the FDA issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer, the first COVID-19 rapid diagnostic test that uses breath to detect a COVID-19 infection. In alignment with other FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 diagnostic tests, UnitedHealthcare will cover the use of this new testing option during the national PHE period (currently scheduled to end July 14, 2022), at no cost share, when the testing is medically appropriate and ordered or reviewed by a physician or appropriately licensed health care professional to either:

  1. Diagnose if the virus is present due to symptoms or potential exposure, or
  2. Help in the treatment of the virus for a person

UnitedHealthcare is awaiting further billing and coding guidance and will update COVID-19 materials on once additional information is available. Based on information from InspectIR, there may be limited use of this new testing option in the near-term, as production of the testing instrument ramps up.

Please contact your broker or UnitedHealthcare representative for more information.

More updates for your clients

New releases, updates and notifications for a broad spectrum of UnitedHealthcare products and services.

Important, required notices for products, plans, forms and more.

Need-to-know operational announcements for you and your clients.