Millions of low-income Americans are at risk of suddenly losing health coverage when the federal government’s years-long public health emergency declaration expires. The Biden administration extended the coronavirus emergency declaration in April, pushing the end of emergency measures into mid-July. Many public health experts and officials anticipate that the latest renewal will be the last, and urge states to take steps to prepare to end these emergency pandemic measures and strengthen public health infrastructure to protect the most vulnerable.
Nearly 16 million Americans are expected to lose health coverage if the emergency declaration ends in the fall, and 14.4 million if the measures end in midsummer, according to the Estimates of the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank. The emergency declaration, first implemented under President Donald Trump in early 2020, made concessions to expand telehealth coverage for Medicaid and Medicare, ban restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements, and give states temporary ability to quickly implement changes to Medicaid and the health insurance program for children (CHIP), among other policies.
“To be realistic, at some point the federal government is going to have to roll some of these things back, and we want to be careful that we don’t back things out too soon because even though people are prepared for the pandemic, chief medical officer Dr Marcos Plesia said. In the Association of State and County Health Officials: “It’s over, I don’t know it’s over.
If the Biden administration does not extend the public health emergency, those measures will expire the same day or immediately thereafter. The Department of Health and Human Services has promised to give states at least two months’ warning before making changes to the declaration to give them a chance to prepare for the turmoil, but more than a dozen Democratic governors have done so. She said They will need more time. Political changes in the era of the epidemic have led to great changes more In Medicaid and CHIP enrollment, up more than 20 percent from February 2020 to November 2021. Plessia added that states can expand Medicaid programs on their own but should start trying to make those regulatory changes now because the process is long and political.
“Ultimately, we will probably go back to the situation where all the Covid treatments, testing and vaccination are back in our standard system, which, you know, is being pushed through the different health insurance systems and that is the cause of the emergency licenses around Medicare and Medicaid are very important,” Plesia said. We moved away from the government just to increase payments for some of these things, so we’ll go back to the need to look at the problem that we still have a large portion of the people in the country who don’t have health insurance. ”
Meanwhile, Republicans continue to call on the White House to end the public health emergency designation for Covid-19, saying the administration must end its “authoritarian and authoritarian” approach. “We call on your administration to do what many states and other nations already have: accept the idea that COVID-19 is endemic, acknowledge that current harsh government interventions are doing more harm than good, and immediately begin the process by which we eliminate PHE so that our country can return to normal.” , more than 70 Republicans in the House of Representatives books In a letter to management in February.
The White House had initially requested $22.5 billion from Congress in pandemic aid. Lawmakers stripped money from a broader necessary spending bill, and continued to halve the amount in hopes of a bipartisan agreement. But the slashed $10 billion package collapsed just before the Easter holiday when Republicans demanded a vote on Title 42, a Trump-era public health matter the Biden administration had been using to drive out immigrants seeking asylum at the border.
Uncertainty about federal funding for Covid-19 treatment, testing and vaccines is also complicating states’ preparations for the transition to the next phase of the pandemic. “It’s causing a crisis right now,” Plesia said. Congressional inaction has already forced clinics and health centers across the country to cut or significantly restrict Covid-19 care for uninsured patients, as funding runs out amid a new wave of infections and hospitalizations. As of April 20, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases is up 35 percent compared to the previous week’s average of daily new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.