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General Assembly Votes to Preserve Health Care Waivers through March 2022

HAP membership urged lawmakers for extension to support hospitals during pandemic response

September 29, 2021

The Pennsylvania General Assembly voted today to extend critical health care waivers and flexibilities to support the hospital community through March 2022.

The General Assembly unanimously approved House Bill 1861, which preserves patient access to telehealth, pharmacy vaccines, and a host of critical measures that have supported the hospital response to the pandemic. These regulatory waivers were set to expire September 30.

The extension comes after HAP and the hospital community urged lawmakers to take action before the September 30 deadline.

In a statement released today, HAP President and CEO Andy Carter applauded the General Assembly for working together to maintain the emergency waivers and flexibilities that ensured safe care during the pandemic.

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

Pennsylvanians and hospitals across the commonwealth have benefited from these essential provisions through:

  • Expanded telehealth services to cover a wider range of care, especially for those who cannot easily access specialty services
  • Easier access to vaccines at pharmacies
  • Removal of licensing barriers that contribute to staffing shortages
  • Assurance that hospitals can quickly adapt to emergencies by altering their space as necessary to care for influxes of patients

“The innovations that hospitals and health systems have implemented to manage this pandemic will continue to transform health care into the future,” Carter said. “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.” 

In addition, the state Senate today approved Senate Bills 397 and 398, sponsored by Senator Joe Pittman (R- Indiana). The legislation makes permanent COVID-19 waivers that have allowed physician assistants to practice to the full extent of their training while removing barriers that delay their entrance into the field.

The approved legislation heads to Governor Wolf’s desk for his signature. HAP is grateful for Governor Wolf’s expected support for these critical health care measures.

HAP applauds the General Assembly’s passage of House Bill 1861, as well Senate Bills 397 and 398. HAP also thanks our hospital community for its outstanding dedication to this advocacy effort.

For more information, contact Heather Tyler, vice president, state legislative advocacy.