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Feds to End COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in Mid-May

by Emma Freer

Originally published by Texas Medical Association on February 7, 2023.

After nearly three years and 11 extensions, the Biden administration recently announced the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) will finally expire May 11, fulfilling its commitment to give states at least 60 days’ notice of its expiration.

“If the PHE were suddenly terminated, it would sow confusion and chaos into this critical wind-down,” the Executive Office of the President wrote in a Jan. 30 statement.  

Still, the end of the PHE has significant consequences for Texas physicians and their patients.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act temporarily increased federal Medicaid matching dollars by 6.2% for states that agreed to maintain Medicaid coverage for anyone enrolled in the program from March 2020 through the end of the PHE. 

That included Texas, where more than 2.5 million residents, predominantly postpartum women, and children, benefited from continuous Medicaid coverage. 

These matching dollars will phase out between April and December, according to a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, a $1.7 trillion spending package that President Joe Biden signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022.  

To continue to receive these funds through the end of the year, states must comply with certain federal requirements, including agreeing not to terminate enrollment based on returned mail due to an incorrect address. 

In the meantime, state Medicaid officials have a plan for unwinding this coverage, but it requires redetermining millions of patients’ Medicaid eligibility in just eight months. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will begin sending notices in March reminding patients to update their information.  

The Texas Medical Association has met regularly with HHSC over the past year to provide input on the state’s plan with the goal of achieving as smooth a transition as possible. Despite progress, such as streamlining the ways in which Medicaid patients can complete their eligibility applications, TMA remains very concerned about a looming coverage cliff. 

Fortunately, the end of the PHE coincides with some recent policy developments, including increased federal funding for navigators – community organizations that connect eligible consumers to federal marketplace health plans – and extended subsidies for the same plans. TMA experts say these changes could help some Texans who lose Medicaid coverage enroll in a different plan. 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act also makes permanent an option for states to provide 12 months of continuous Medicaid coverage to postpartum women. 

TMA would like to see the Texas Legislature take advantage of this option, one of the association’s top priorities this session. 

Moreover, the law requires states to provide 12 months of continuous Medicaid coverage to children, beginning Jan. 1, 2024. TMA is urging HHSC to align this provision with its redetermination process to minimize the burden on families and to prevent gaps in care.  

In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act extended certain pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities for Medicare patients through 2024, disentangling them from the status of the PHE. These flexibilities include: 

Waiving geographic site restrictions, which allow patients to access care from their homes; and 

Allowing physicians to use audio-only telehealth services.   

TMA and others in organized medicine recently wrote a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), requesting the agency issue an interim final rule to align its telehealth policies and timeline (to expire 151 days after the end of the PHE) with those in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Not doing so, they wrote, could create “an unintended barrier to vital health care services, as well as potential confusion” among clinicians and patients.  

Prior to the act’s passage, CMS made permanent the same telehealth flexibilities for Medicare patients accessing mental and behavioral health services as well as coverage of video-based mental health visits at federal qualified and rural health centers. 

Finally, the PHE’s end means physicians not using a HIPAA-compliant platform for telehealth will need to switch to one by May 12. 

Physicians can refer to CMS’ fact sheet regarding PHE waivers and flexibilities for more information.  

For more detailed coverage on how the end of the PHE will affect Texas physicians and patients, check out the January/February issue of Texas Medicine magazine.  

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics for the Week of January 21

January 19, 2023 – (Tarrant County) – Tarrant County Public Health hosts numerous pop-up COVID-19 clinics across Tarrant County each week in partnership with public and private organizations listed below. Each site has the Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax vaccines. Infants six months and older are eligible for the vaccination. Parents need to bring proof of the child’s age and their own ID for the vaccination. Booster vaccinations are available at all of the vaccination locations. 

TCPH would like to bring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic to businesses, churches, and organizations in the community thatare interested in hosting a pop-up clinic. It’s easy and free to host a clinic.
In addition to the vaccination opportunities below, the cities of Arlington, Fort Worth, Mansfield, North Richland Hills, Hurst, and Tarrant County College have also added opportunities for vaccinations. To find a local vaccine site, the County created a vaccine finder page: VaxUpTC website.

Pop-Up COVID-19 locations:

Stonegate Nursing and Rehabilitation  
Wednesday, Jan. 25: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
4201 Stonegate Blvd.  
Fort Worth, TX 76109

VaxMobile-City of Forest Hill  
Thursday, Jan. 26: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
6800 Forest Hill Dr.   
Forest Hill, TX 76140

Tarrant County Public Health CIinics: 

Northwest Public Health Center
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
3800 Adam Grubb Road
Lake Worth, TX 76135

Bagsby-Williams Health Center
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
3212 Miller Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76119

Southeast Public Health Center
Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
536 W Randol Mill
Arlington TX, 76011

Main Public Health Center
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
1101 S. Main Street
Fort Worth, TX 76104

Southwest Public Health Center
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
6551 Granbury Road
Fort Worth, TX 76133

Watauga Public Health Center
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
6601 Watauga Road
Watauga, TX 76148

For more information go to or call the Tarrant County Public Health information line, 817-248-6299, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A Summary of the Stimulus Legislation

Late Wednesday night the Senate approved a massive $2 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package.

Provisions of particular interest to physicians and their practices include the following:

  1. Creates a new loan product within the Small Business Administration for loans of up to $10 million to help cover payroll and overhead costs, with expanded loan forgiveness criteria. Physician practices with not more than 500 employees may qualify.
  2. $100 billion in direct financial support to hospitals, physician practices, and other health care providers under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This support is for costs of treating COVID-19 patients as well as to ease the financial impact on those who lose revenue due reductions in other services as a result of the pandemic. Exact eligibility criteria and application process is not yet defined pending implementation.
  3. Suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester in May through December 2020.
  4. Limitations on liability for volunteer health care professionals during COVID-19 emergency response.
  5. A temporary waiver of the face-to-face visit requirement with home dialysis patients.
  6. Authority for the Secretary of HHS to waive telehealth coverage requirements for new patients during a national emergency. Previous legislation provided flexibility only for established patients seen within the past three years.
  7. Secretary will also allow for enhanced use of telehealth under Medicare for federally qualified health centers.

Also of interest, the “health extenders” package that was set to expire on May 22 has now been extended to November 30.

House passage is expected on Friday and the President is expected to sign the bill into law.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity 3/25/20

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.


COVID-19 Drive Thru Testing Available for Health Care Workers

The Tarrant County Medical Society is pleased to announce that the City of Fort Worth Fire Department, in close consultation with Dr. Michael Williams, President, UNTHSC at Fort Worth and Dr. Keith Argenbright, Director, Moncrief Cancer Institute/UT Southwestern Medical Center have opened a COVID-19 testing center for 1st responders that is now available to front line health care workers. This screening resource is now available for physicians, nurses, medical assistants and other health professionals who are on the front lines fighting the COVID virus.  

If you are interested in accessing this testing, please call the Infections Disease Coordinator at the Joint Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the City of Fort Worth at 817-714-9709. This number is answered from 8 am to 5 pm daily. The ID coordinator will conduct an environmental and clinical assessment of the health care professional and determine if COVID testing is warranted. We understand that the clinical evaluation of COVID testing is complex and changes rapidly – you can be assured that the IC coordinator is up-to-date on the current recommendations. 

If testing is indicated, the ID coordinator will collect demographic and clinical information from the health care professional and give the provider the address of the testing facility and an appointment window. The ID coordinator will inform the professional that if the result is positive, they will receive the results by phone; if negative by text or e-mail. The health care professional will be given post-test instructions, including self-quarantine until the test results are available. We are telling them to expect 5 days for results, but are hoping for a quicker turn-around. 

We appreciate your cooperation in this effort to quickly and appropriately screen our critical health care providers. This is a new program and thus will be subject to modification as it is operationalized. 

Dr. Mark Shelton responds to ‘stay at home’ order and concern over hospitals reaching capacity

Watch Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Mark Shelton’s responses to WFAA, where he spoke about the importance of the recent stay at home order issued in Tarrant County. Originally aired on 3/24/20.

COVID-19 Testing Sites – Tarrant County

Below is information about the two COVID-19 testing sites currently available in Tarrant County:

Clinicas Mi Doctor – Seminary  La Gran Plaza

4200 South Freeway, Ste. 106

Fort Worth, TX 76115


  • Currently, this is the only COVID-19 Testing Site for Clinicas Mi Doctor. No other Clinicas Mi Doctor locations will provide testing.
  • There is a drive-thru to check for COVID-19 symptoms at no-cost. 
  • Once symptoms have been verified, the individual will be given a number to call for their appointment to be tested. The number is 1-888-776-5252.
  • If the individual cannot pay, Free Testing will be provided.
  • If the individual does not have insurance but can self-pay, then the cost is $75.00.
  • If the individual has insurance, then Lab Corps will bill the insurance company.

City Hospital Emergency Care Center (Open 24 hours)

4551 Western Center Blvd.

Fort Worth, TX 76137

(817) 644-3340 

  • Pre-screenings for COVID-19 symptoms are provided at no-cost.
  • Once symptoms have been verified, the individual will be given a test at no-cost.
  • The test results take 5-7 days to return.
  • If the test is positive, the patient is called and told to self-quarantine.
  • The following fees will be billed to the patient:
  • Copay if insured or self-pay if not insured
  • Physician Fee
  • Facilities Fee
  • Assigned a billing level just like an ER in a hospital

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 3/24/20

There have been a total of 71 coronavirus cases in Tarrant County. Currently, 67 of those are still active.


Dedicated Cellular Network Open to Physicians Responding to COVID-19

Physicians and other licensed health care professionals are now eligible to join FirstNet, the nation’s only public safety wireless broadband network.

FirstNet, built and maintained by AT&T with first responders and for responders, provides nationwide 4G LTE wireless voice and data. The FirstNet network features First Priority® that supports prioritized and efficient communications, as well as preemptive access to network resources for first responders during times of congestion. This helps ensure fast, efficient, and highly secure communications flow for those on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Telehealth applications, which often require video and photos, are data intensive. The data prioritization on FirstNet helps to address that.

FirstNet was commissioned by Congress as a single, nationwide wireless broadband network in response to the communication failures that occurred during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. FirstNet is government authorized, inspected, and supervised, holding AT&T accountable to keeping first responders’ lines of communication open with dedicated mission critical solutions.

Physicians can join or switch to the network at a discounted rate, which includes unlimited data and no throttling. You can register on the FirstNet website, which includes more information on the network. You can also visit an AT&T store and show your credentials (such as a hospital badge or paystub). If you are with another carrier, early termination fees may apply from that carrier.

Remember, you can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.