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Biden to End Covid National and Public Emergencies in May

The Biden administration plans to end the Covid-19 national and public emergencies in May, the White House announced on Monday.

The emergencies are set to expire on May 11. The announcement came in opposition to two House Republican measures to end the emergencies sooner, instead reiterating administration policy and stating that the emergencies have been extended into May. The reason for May is because Republicans’ “abrupt end” would create “wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system,” according to the White House. 

“This wind down would align with the Administration’s previous commitments to give at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of the (public health emergency),” the statement said.

Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, however, said there’s no need to wait until then because “the vast majority of Americans have returned to work and resumed their lives months ago.”

The emergencies have enabled the government to provide Americans Covid tests free-of-charge, free vaccines and treatments, and enhanced social safety net benefits. Once they end in May, Americans will start to incur more Covid-related costs.

“People will have to start paying some money for things they didn’t have to pay for during the emergency,” said Jen Kates, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “That’s the main thing people will start to notice.”

Medicare beneficiaries will be particularly impacted by these changes, as the aforementioned emergency benefits have been entirely covered by Medicare since the emergencies were first declared by Trump in 2020. State Medicaid programs will have to continue covering Covid tests and free vaccines as ordered by a physician, but enrollees may face out-of-pocket costs for treatments.

But an even bigger impact for Medicaid recipients may entail losing their health insurance altogether. In a massive spending bill passed in December, both Democrats and Republicans agreed to allow states to kick people off Medicaid once the emergencies, which have mandated a continuous Medicaid enrollment period, ended. A total of roughly 15 million people could be dropped, according to an analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services. Around 8.2 million people would no longer qualify, the department estimated, but 6.8 million people would be terminated even though they are still eligible.


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