WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring a COVID-19 public health emergency three years ago provides expanded health insurance coverage, increased food assistance and universal access to coronavirus vaccines and tests changed the lives of millions of Americans.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said it plans to end state of emergency declarations on May 11, many of which are now nearing their end.
Here’s what remains and what will happen after the state of emergency is lifted.
Testing, Treatment and Vaccines for COVID-19
Home nasal swabs, COVID-19 vaccines and their accompanying boosters, treatments, and other products scientists have developed over the past three years have been on emergency list by the Food and Drug Administration, even after the public health emergency. It is still approved for use. that’s all.
However, the amount you pay for certain COVID-related products may change.
Insurance companies will no longer have to pay for free at-home COVID-19 tests.
But free vaccines don’t end in public health emergencies.
Cynthia Cox, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said: “All vaccines currently being administered are federally purchased.”
But the Biden administration has said it lacks the funds to buy the vaccine, and Congress has not yielded to the president’s demands. to get more money.
While many states hope to get through the spring and summer, there are questions about what vaccine supplies will look like for the fall, when respiratory illnesses usually start to spike, said Ann of the state association.・Chairman Zink said. and territorial health authorities.
“We all want to know more about it,” Zink said.
Medicaid enrollment skyrocketed during the pandemic. This is partly because the federal government has banned states from removing people once enrolled from the program during a public health emergency.
The program provides health insurance to approximately 90 million children and adults, or one in four Americans.
Late last year, Congress told states that they could begin weeding out ineligible people in April. millions of people You can expect to lose coverage because your income is too high to qualify for Medicare or because you moved. Many people are expected to qualify for low-cost insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act private market or through their employers.
Federal student loan payments were suspended in March 2020 under the Trump administration and have been on hold ever since. The Biden administration announced plans to forgive up to $10,000 of federal student loan debt for individuals with incomes below her $125,000 or households with incomes below her $250,000.
But plans for that pardon, which more than 26 million people have applied for, have been put on hold and thrown into a legal maze pending a Supreme Court ruling.
DOJ initially claimed the education secretary had “clean-up powers” to waive the rule Per the HEROES Act of 2003 adopted during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it relates to student financial aid during national emergencies.
Officials in the Biden administration told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the end of the health emergency would not change the legal debate over student loan debt forgiveness, saying the COVID-19 pandemic meant that loans could be taken out in an emergency. It said it affected millions of student borrowers who may have fallen behind.
The suspension of student loan payments is scheduled to end 60 days after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
immigration at the border
Border authorities can deny the right to seek asylum, a rule introduced in March 2020 when COVID-19 began to spread.
These restrictions remain in place at the U.S.-Mexico border, pending Supreme Court review, regardless of the expiration date of the COVID-19 emergency. Republican lawmakers sued after the Biden administration moved to end the restrictions, known as Title 42, last year.
The end of the state of emergency could strengthen legal arguments that Title 42 restrictions should no longer be enforced. Emergency restrictions fall under health regulations and have been criticized as a way to prevent migrants from coming to the border, rather than stop the spread of the virus.
The arrival of COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the use of telemedicinemany healthcare providers and hospital systems are transitioning healthcare delivery to smartphone or computer formats.
The public health emergency declaration suspended some of the strict rules that previously governed telemedicine and allowed doctors to bill Medicare for care provided virtually, so its It helped me to speed up my approach.
Congress has already agreed to extend many of these telemedicine flexibility in Medicare through the end of next year.
Relaxed restrictions during the COVID-19 public health emergency have made it easier for individuals and families to receive more benefits under the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). rice field. Some state and legislative actions are beginning to scale back that portion. Emergency quotas, which typically cost about $82 a month, end as early as March in more than 20 states, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
Food aid for unemployed people under 50 with no children will also change after the public health emergency is lifted in May. A rule requiring these individuals to work 20 hours a week or participate in vocational training to remain eligible for SNAP benefits was suspended during the state of emergency. . Her SNAP support for low-income college students will also be lowered in June.
state COVID emergency
At least half a dozen states, including California, Delaware, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Texas, still have some form of COVID emergency declaration or disaster order in place. However, the practical effects of these directives are limited.
New Mexico’s public health emergency, which has been extended through Friday, advised medical facilities to comply with federal coronavirus requirements. Delaware remains open for business under a “public health emergency” that suspends staffing ratios for long-term care homes.
Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, said his emergency order will end on February 28. Most have expired, but he plans to ask lawmakers to make the two laws permanent.
money for hospital
Hospitals will be hit hard financially in May when the emergency ends.His additional 20% to treat his COVID-19 patients enrolled in Medicare will no longer be available.
Stacey Hughes, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, said those payments will come to an end at a time when many hospitals are in financial trouble, struggling with labor shortages and inflationary pains. rice field.
Associated Press writers JoNel Aleccia of Los Angeles, Colleen Long and Seung Min Kim of Washington, and David Lieb of Jefferson City, Missouri, contributed to this report.