On January 11, 2023, the U.S. government extended the COVID-19 public health emergency until April. This extension comes as a highly transmissible Omicron subvariant, known as “Kraken,” has caused an increase in hospitalizations.
Since the emergency was originally declared in January 2020, it has been renewed every 90 days by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS has committed to giving state governments and healthcare providers 60 days’ notice before terminating the declaration, allowing time to prepare for changes in regulatory authority and affected programs.
The Biden Administration credited two reasons as to why the emergency status did not end this January: the possibility of a winter surge and the need for more time to transition to a private market for the sale of COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
Effects of the public health emergency
When the public health emergency ends, hospitals will be affected, losing flexibility in staff deployment and how they care for patients during a surge. Additionally, pharmacies could be impacted, as their roles expanded by administering vaccines in the midst of the pandemic.
Once expired, private insurance and government health plans will take on COVID-19 healthcare costs for most Americans.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress banned states from removing individuals from Medicaid during the emergency. Recently, Congress severed those Medicaid protections, allowing the program to start withdrawing individuals in April, who no longer meet eligibility requirements.
As more information is made available, Creative Benefits, Inc. will continue to release updates on the evolving COVID-19 public health emergency.