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May 19, 2022

Around the nation: HHS is set to extend the Covid-19 public health emergency

Daily Briefing

    An HHS spokesperson announced that "the public health emergency for Covid-19 remains in effect," while echoing the agency's pledge to provide a 60-day notice before ending the declaration, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania.

    • District of Columbia: HHS is set to extend the Covid-19 public health emergency beyond its July 15 expiration date, Bloomberg reported Monday. The agency has extended the emergency declaration since it was first implemented in January 2020. Last month, HHS announced that it would extend the emergency through July and promised to give states a 60-day notice before terminating the declaration or letting it expire. As of late Monday afternoon, the Washington Post reported that it had not received any information about the declaration, which means that it will likely be extended through October. An HHS spokesperson told the Post and Bloomberg that "the public health emergency for Covid-19 remains in effect," while echoing the agency's pledge to provide a 60-day notice before ending the declaration. The apparent extension of the emergency declaration comes after the American Hospital Association and American Medical Association, along with 14 other health care organizations, last week wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the agency to extend the public health emergency "until it is clear that the global pandemic has receded, and the capabilities authorized by the PHE are no longer necessary." (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/17)
    • District of Columbia: House Democrats on Tuesday proposed an emergency funding bill that allocates $28 million to help FDA address the nationwide baby formula shortage. On Wednesday, the House passed the bill in a 231-192 vote, mainly along party lines. The bill, called the "Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022" aims to provide FDA funding to hire additional staff to help inspect infant formula and to prepare for any potential shortages. The act will attempt "to prevent future shortages, including such steps as may be necessary to prevent fraudulent products from entering the United States market," according to the legislation. "The stories of mothers and fathers struggling to find formula and the images of empty store shelves are heartbreaking," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. "Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait—they need our support now. This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner," she added. (Scribner, Axios, 5/17; Weixel/Schnell, The Hill, 5/18)
    • Pennsylvania: Grand View Health on Tuesday appointed Douglas Hughes as president and CEO after serving as the health system's interim leader since October. In 2018, Hughes joined the health system as SVP and chief strategy officer where he developed a five-year strategic plan that led to service improvements. As president and CEO, Hughes will lead almost 2,000 workers at the health system's hospital and outpatient care sites. "Over the past six months and throughout the pandemic, Doug has consistently demonstrated that he is the best candidate for Grand View as we continue to grow our capabilities and access to high-quality patient services close to home," said Robert Pritchard, chair of the system's board. "We are well-positioned for growth, and Doug's leadership both administratively and clinically will enable us to build upon that momentum." (Ellison, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/18)

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