Under Joe Biden, the pandemic will officially continue even though the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) was set to expire April 16.
Big Pharma, health lobbyists and any entity that profits from this PHE will likely rejoice when the current White House renews another 90 days.
Health and Human Services (HHS) has successfully extended and renewed the declaration every 90 days in what was originally presented as just to be “two weeks” by government agencies and corporate news since 2020. The declaration was last extended Jan. 14 with a deadline of April 16.
The Biden Administration can allow the PHE declaration to expire at the end of the 90-day period or terminated early.
Indications are that Biden will not let the declaration lapse. HHS pledged to give 60 days’ notice before terminating the PHE which they haven’t done. When the PHE is extended again before April 16, it would then expire July 15.
The extension would come amid intense political and public pressure to wind down the pandemic-born flexibilities for people, providers and federal health programs. Congressional Republicans have been urging Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to end the declaration for months, penning a letter to them in February to end the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency.
Many healthcare providers, lobbyists and pharmaceutical leadership continue to prolong and urge the declaration amid ongoing concerns about workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, and higher acuity health needs that are postponed throughout the pandemic.
When the PHE does end, so will its continuous enrollment requirement, which ensures individuals enrolled in Medicaid throughout the pandemic are not at risk of losing coverage.
🔹Ending this provision means millions of people will need to complete renewals necessary to redetermine their eligibility to remain in the program, a process that will likely be complicated by staffing shortages at state Medicaid agencies.
🔹A conclusion of the PHE means most Medicare beneficiaries would lose access to coverage of nearly all telehealth services within a few months, unless they reside in rural areas or enroll in Medicare Advantage.
🔹Hospitals would no longer receive a special pandemic-related 20 percent increase in Medicare payments for treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 through the hospital inpatient prospective payment system.
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