Biden Administration to End Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in May

On Monday, January 30, the White House announced that it will end the coronavirus public health emergency on May 11, 2023, implying that officials have decided the pandemic is now at a governable stage.

Officials are planning on keeping the public health emergency for COVID-19 until May to make sure health officials can have enough time to prepare once it officially ends. The public health emergency was announced in 2020 during the Trump administration and will be ending after three years. With the declared emergency, hospitals and healthcare systems were able to handle COVID-19 with more flexibility.

It also increased Medicaid enrollment as the government had banned the program from pulling people out. The federal response to the pandemic has already been reduced due to a lack of funding, despite the fact that the emergency declarations will remain in place until spring. A White House request for $22.5 billion in extra funding for the COVID-19 response has been stalled in Congress for months.

In order to allow health care systems to return to normal, the Department of Health and Human Services has pledged to provide states with 60 days notice prior to ending the emergency. Since January 2020, the public health emergency has been extended every 90 days due to COVID-19's evolution with new variants and numerous surprises over the past three years.

The emergency was prolonged earlier this month by the Department of Health and Human Services. Although the White House is to end public health emergency for COVID-19, WHO says it is still a public health emergency. COVID-19 cases have decreased throughout the years and nations have accustomed to it, but it is still a serious virus that can cause fatal issues.

"We can’t control the virus, but we can do more to tackle the vulnerabilities in populations and health systems," said WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the 152nd executive board session.

"That means vaccinating 100% of the most at-risk groups; increasing access to testing and early antiviral use; taking context specific measures when there is a surge in cases; maintaining and expanding laboratory networks; and fighting misinformation."

He continued that nations could persist with protecting the vulnerable individuals and maintain COVID-19 under control to make sure the virus can come under control.

"Vaccination will remain an essential part of our approach. We are now working to determine the most effective mechanism for advising member states and manufacturers on vaccine composition and vaccination frequency," continued Ghebreyesus.

What does this entail?

This means certain benefits will also end, including free COVID-19 tests, treatments, and more. Insurances such as Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies were able to provide free care for COVID-19 with its public health emergency, but now that may change completely.

According to the United States Office of Management and Budget, "creating wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system" would result from suddenly closing the emergencies in the manner outlined in the Republican legislation.

The statement continued that ending the emergency without providing healthcare facilities enough time to adapt would result in "disruptions in care and payment delays, and many facilities across the country will experience revenue losses." It could also bring "confusion and chaos," as the Medicaid coverage protections were being phased out.

"An abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans," said the White House in the proposed statement.

By ending its public health emergency, COVID-19 vaccination costs will be covered by insurances instead of government funding.

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