President Biden announces end to COVID-19 emergency declarations
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is ending treatment of COVID-19 as an emergency, restructuring how the federal government will respond to the pandemic entering its fourth year.
The administration plans to end both the national emergency and the public health emergency on May 11.
The announcement came in a message to Congress about steps House Republicans are considering this week to end such emergency declarations immediately.
The administration wants to wait until May to end the ER because Republicans’ “abrupt end” would create “large-scale chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system,” the White House said.
Tens of millions of Americans could be at risk of suddenly losing their health insurance and others could lose access to telehealth services. States could lose billions of dollars in additional funding they received, hospitals and nursing homes that relied on flexibilities wouldn’t have time to retrain staff and establish new billing procedures , according to the White House.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., Said there was no need to wait until May because ‘the vast majority of Americans have returned to work and resumed their lives months ago”.
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COVID was on track to be the third leading cause of death in 2022 for the third consecutive year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundationa nonpartisan health research organization.
But public panic over the pandemic subsided after the introduction of vaccines and treatments.
In September, Biden declared the pandemic “over,” although he said COVID was still an issue.
A national emergency was first declared by President Donald Trump on March 13, 2020.
The Biden administration had said it would give states 60 days notice before ending the emergency.
States received additional Medicaid funding during the emergency in exchange for continued retention of patients in the co-funded healthcare program for low-income residents.
As a result, Medicaid enrollment increased by 30% and fewer Americans were uninsured.
In a massive spending bill passed in December, Democrats and Republicans agreed to allow states to kick people out of Medicaid starting in May.
When the public health emergency ends, people without insurance will have to pay for vaccines, tests and treatments themselves. Those with private insurance may incur costs.
COVID-19 vaccines are also expected to become more expensive as the government stops buying them.
About seven in 10 Americans have received an initial COVID vaccination, but fewer than 20% of adults have received the final booster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contributor: The Associated Press
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