White House Plans To End COVID Emergency In May, Good Luck!
Remain calm. All is well.

The White House announced Monday that it plans to end two national emergency orders covering the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11, to allow an orderly wind-down of public health measures currently in place that provide assistance to people needing care. The announcement was included in a letter to Congress opposing two Republican bills that would instead end the emergency declarations immediately, although even if they pass the House, they wouldn't get anywhere in the Senate and President Joe Biden could veto them if they did.

The White House letter pointed out that under the 2020 COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency (PHE) orders, there are currently no longer any restrictions on personal conduct or on businesses or schools, but that they still are providing for health services that would be thrown into "chaos" if the orders went away immediately. The letter notes that extending the orders until May 11 would meet the Biden administration's "previous commitments to give at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of the PHE."

The letter also tells Republicans to knock it off with their talk of immediately ending the emergency orders, because actually doing that 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.

Well of course. Chaos is Republicans' brand, man.

During the pandemic, Medicaid put in place rules to provide states with extra funding for Medicaid so the program could continue providing care to "tens of millions of vulnerable Americans," along with an order preventing states from dropping people from Medicaid during the emergency. In December's omnibus bill, Congress had specified that the extra funds would wind down starting in April, although the White House says the disenrollment deadline will now extend to May 11, to "ensure that patients did not lose access to care unpredictably and that state budgets don’t face a radical [budgetary] cliff," so no, we're not going to just pull the rug out from under people until we give them more warning that we're pulling the rug away.

Republicans have been calling on Biden to end the public health emergency immediately because states are allegedly burdened by keeping more people on Medicaid, but that's a load of hooey, as the Kaiser Family Foundation pointed out in December. States' Medicaid expenditures did go up by $47 billion because of the rule keeping them from dropping Medicaid enrollees, but during the same period, additional federal Medicaid funding was around $100 billion, so shut up.

The White House also noted that other emergency rules allowed changes to hospital and nursing home billing, so those facilities also need time to prepare for the end of the emergency measures to prevent disruptions to patient care. Same goes for emergency measures that allowed veterans to use telehealth for doctors' appointments and other services.

When the emergency orders are phased out in May, it's still going to create hardships for a lot of people — for starters, there are those who are set to lose the emergency Medicaid benefits that will be winding down. That could affect up to 15 million Americans, although as the New York Times points out, Democrats shuffled around the savings from winding down the emergency Medicaid funding to provide at least a year of extended coverage for kids in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for postpartum moms, and for residents of US territories.

The end of the emergency will also mean an end to free COVID tests and vaccines for many Americans, although some benefits will remain in place, as CNN explains, depending on what shards of our fragmented healthcare "system" they rely on.

Once the emergency ends, Medicare beneficiaries generally will face out-of-pocket costs for at-home testing and all treatment. However, vaccines will continue to be covered at no cost, as will testing ordered by a health care provider.

State Medicaid programs will have to continue covering Covid-19 tests ordered by a physician and vaccines at no charge. But enrollees may face out-of-pocket costs for treatments.

Those with private insurance could face charges for lab tests, even if they are ordered by a provider. Vaccinations will continue to be free for those with private insurance who go to in-network providers, but going to an out-of-network providers could incur charges.

Covid-19 vaccinations will be free for those with insurance even when the public health emergency ends because of various federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act and pandemic-era measures, the Inflation Reduction Act and a 2020 relief package.

Federal funding for Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that's highly effective at keeping people out of the hospital if it's started within a few days of testing positive, will also go away, meaning that folks with insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid may have a copay.

Federal funding for uninsured people to get free testing, vaccines, and treatment ran out last year, so as usual, they'll be screwed hardest of all. The prices of COVID vaccines will also go up, so the US can return more quickly to its usual third-world standard of care for folks who lack insurance hooray. At least the Inflation Reduction Act significantly beefed up Obamacare and got more people insured, so we're again at a record low number of people who lack any coverage — but 27.5 million without health insurance is still too damn many people, though.

In conclusion, fuck this fucking America, can we please become Europe soon, the end.

[White House / USA Today / NYT / CNN]

Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 monthly to help us keep you on top of all the latest weirdness.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)


©2018 by Commie Girl Industries, Inc