Without action, the waivers would have expired Thursday, potentially exacerbating ongoing staffing crises in hospitals and long-term care institutions.
Danielle Ohl of Spotlight PA
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HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania legislature on Wednesday unanimously voted to extend dozens of regulatory waivers put into place last year to help health-care providers fight COVID-19.
The waivers without action would have expired Thursday, potentially exacerbating ongoing staffing crises in hospitals and long-term care institutions, which are again facing rising COVID-19 cases. Health-care workers and their advocates previously warned any lapse in the relaxed rules would have renewed administrative burdens and made fighting the ongoing pandemic more difficult.
Wednesday’s action will keep the waivers in place until March 2022 while the legislature considers a number of bills that would make the regulatory suspensions permanent. The vote sends the bill to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for final approval.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Wolf approved nearly 100 waivers to ease some of the rules governing health-care workers and ensure as many professionals as possible were on the ground in hospitals, vaccination clinics, and long-term care facilities.
They included allowing out-of-state practitioners to treat patients in Pennsylvania, permitting retired or lapsed professionals to return to medicine, and expanding who could give a vaccine.
The temporary changes were made under a disaster declaration that later became a target for legislative Republicans unhappy with the administration’s business closures.
Buoyed by two successful constitutional amendments that curtailed the executive’s power, the GOP-controlled General Assembly ended Wolf’s emergency order in June, while allowing the waivers to remain in place until Sept. 30.
This story will be updated.
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