Here are 3 things the end of the COVID public health emergency could undo
(The Hill) — The Biden administration announced Monday that it plans to end a pair of emergency designations implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11.
As part of the national emergency and the public health emergency, the Trump and Biden administrations have implemented and expanded programs to provide relief with respect to paying for health care, testing and COVID-19 treatments and monthly student loan payments.
It also included a controversial border program that made it easier to deport foreign nations, citing public health protections amid the pandemic.
The future of some of these programs is now tied to legal battles.
The Biden administration’s announcement came on the eve of a scheduled vote on a House Republican-backed bill dubbed the Pandemic is Over Act that would end the public health emergency on the same day as the bill – which would still require a vote in the Senate and the signature of President Biden – is enacted.
Here are three things that could be undone with the lifting of national and public health emergencies.
Title 42 was a policy implemented by the Trump administration that allowed Border Patrol agents to deport foreign nationals at the border, citing pandemic-related public health protections. The policy, which ignored and ultimately gutted the asylum system, has resulted in nearly 2.5 million encounters since its implementation in 2020, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.
The Biden administration since taking office in January 2021 had continued to implement the policy until the matter was legally blocked. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which in December overturned an order by a federal judge that had ruled that the border policy must end.
A date has been set for oral arguments in March, with a final decision expected in June – a month after the public health emergency was scheduled to end on May 11.
In a statement on Monday, the Office of Management and Budget said the Biden administration “supports an orderly and predictable reduction in Title 42, with ample time to put alternative policies in place.”
The Department of Homeland Security has previously indicated that it is preparing to terminate Title 42 once the public health emergency is over.
Benefits for Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiaries
Since the declaration of a public health emergency (PHE), government programs such as Medicaid have been able to operate under special conditions, allowing beneficiaries to maintain coverage during the pandemic.
Medicaid announced a series of guidelines last year on how to return to pre-pandemic standards, stating that Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program agencies will be allowed to begin their “roll-out” period either one month before the end of the PHE, the same month it ends or the following month.
As part of the public health emergency, beneficiaries enrolled in Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage could also receive free in-home COVID-19 testing and treatment and pay no cost sharing. He also demanded that private insurance companies cover the costs of COVID-19 testing.
With the public health emergency over, Americans will have to start paying for COVID-19 tests and treatments like Paxlovid, with insurance companies and manufacturers setting the price.
Federal student loan payment suspension
Student loan repayments on debt repaid by the U.S. Department of Education have been on pause since March 2020, with those loans also earning no interest for nearly three years.
But the lifting of the national emergency, which served as the basis for authorizing the suspension of payments, could further complicate another Trump-era case that is now tied to the legal system.
The pause, which has been extended six times under the Trump and Biden administrations, is now tied to a student debt forgiveness program that the Biden administration is arguing at the Supreme Court level.
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The Department for Education previously said that until it can implement the debt relief program, student loan repayments would be suspended until “no later than” June 30, which which left borrowers feeling in limbo.
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