The two national emergency declarations dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic will end in May, President Joe Biden said Monday.
The Biden administration will end both the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency on May 11, the White House informed Congress on Monday night.
Doing so will have many effects, including the end of free vaccines and health services to fight the pandemic. The public health emergency has been renewed every 90 days since first being declared by the Trump administration in January 2020.
The declaration allowed major changes throughout the health care system to deal with the pandemic, including the free distribution of vaccines, testing and treatments. In addition, telehealth services were expanded, and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were extended to millions more Americans.
Ending the states of emergency will have major impacts on Medicaid enrollees whose coverage was ensured so long as the pandemic was considered an emergency.
Millions of Americans may now be removed from their Medicaid coverage, if they no longer qualify. At least 13% of Medicaid recipients could get kicked off, according to research compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) from around 20 states.
States have added approximately 20 million people to the Medicaid rolls since the start of the pandemic in 2020, which is an increaseof 30%, according to a group of Republican governors who in December pressured the Biden administration to end the public health emergency.
For people without insurance, the health emergency has also allowed them to receive free COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments by way of a Medicaid expansion.
For people with private insurance, the health emergency has had an effect on their health care costs, too, by eliminating testing fees.
After the emergency ends, people with private insurance could incur costs for at-home tests or tests at clinics, especially if they’re at an out-of-network facility.
And while COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be covered by private insurance companies because of the CARES Act, according to KFF, people with private insurance could still be charged if they get their vaccines or boosters out-of-network once the emergency ends.
“At present, the Administration’s plan is to extend the emergency declarations to May 11, and then end both emergencies on that date. This wind down would align with the Administration’s previous commitments to give at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of the PHE,” the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote in a letter to Congress.
There were nearly 300,00 newly reported COVID-19 cases in the United States for the week ending Jan. 25, according to CDC data, as well as more than 3,750 deaths.