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HAP Statement on General Assembly’s Extension of Emergency Flexibility for Health Care

Extension will enable hospitals to continue to use tools critical to pandemic response

September 29, 2021

Harrisburg, PA (September 29, 2021) – The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) applauds the General Assembly’s passage of House Bill 1861, which extends emergency waivers and flexibilities for health care providers until March 31, 2022. HAP President and CEO, Andy Carter, released the following statement:

“Health care providers have relied on these critical flexibilities to better respond to the pandemic. This extension will avoid any disruptions in care that may have occurred if these waivers and flexibilities had expired.

HAP thanks the General Assembly—and especially leadership in both chambers—for working together to maintain the regulatory flexibility that the health care community needs to meet the unique challenges of the pandemic. We are also grateful for the Governor’s expected support.

The innovations that hospitals and health systems have implemented to manage this pandemic will continue to transform health care into the future. We plan to continue our work with the General Assembly and Governor to make permanent some of these flexibilities—such as expanded telehealth—that improve access to care for all Pennsylvanians.”

Background:  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf issued a disaster declaration that allowed state agencies to waive certain regulations so that hospitals could quickly respond during the public health emergency. During May, voters supported an amendment to the state constitution to limit disaster declarations to 21 days and allow the General Assembly to terminate the disaster declaration. Lawmakers ended the declaration during June and extended COVID-19 waivers until September 30, 2021. House Bill 1861 continues that extension through March 2022.

These waivers expand telehealth services, increase vaccine access, allow hospitals to quickly adapt to emergencies by altering space as needed to care for influxes of patients, and remove regulatory barriers related to licensing—giving hospitals more flexibility to use staff as needed. Learn more online.

About HAP:  HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 240 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online.