CMSS Recommends Extension of Public Health Emergency

July 23, 2020

Alex M. Azar, II
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Re: CMSS Strongly Recommends Extension of Public Health Emergency Set to Expire July 25, 2020

Dear Secretary Azar:

On behalf of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), we urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take immediate action and renew the Public Health Emergency (PHE) set to expire on July 25, 2020.  With more than 800,000 physicians across 45 specialties, CMSS recommends that HHS renew PHE to ensure that telehealth policies and regulatory waivers remain in place.

We greatly appreciate your efforts to rapidly declare PHE during the COVID-19 pandemic and implement significant regulatory flexibilities to ensure patient access to care. During the current pandemic, telehealth has allowed patients to seek care safely, minimize the spread of the virus, and flatten the curve. We appreciate your efforts to provide the regulatory flexibility that allowed physicians to rapidly scale up the provision of telehealth to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Through rapid adoption, physicians have used telemedicine to provide safer alternatives to COVID-19 screening, testing, and treatment, while reducing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and transmission to patients and healthcare workers. The use of telehealth by physician practices has also been an important strategy to keep some of our sickest and most-vulnerable patients away from hospitals and emergency departments.

Many of these flexibilities and policy changes are due to expire on July 25 if immediate action is not taken to extend PHE. Given ongoing COVID-19 transmission, it is critical to maintain the policy flexibility to ensure access to this lower risk alternative, especially for some of our sickest and vulnerable patients.

CMSS’s 45 specialty societies and more than 800,000 physicians urge you to extend the telehealth flexibilities from PHE for the foreseeable future to ensure that Americans continue to get the critical care they need during these difficult times.

CMSS Chief Executive Officer Helen Burstin, MD, welcomes an opportunity to discuss this issue or answer any questions you may have. You can reach Dr. Burstin at

Thank you,

Council of Medical Specialty Societies