Biden to End Covid-19 Public Health Emergency in May

President Biden intends to let the coronavirus public health emergency expire on May 11, a sign that officials believe the pandemic has moved into a new phase.

While more than 500 people are dying from Covid-19 each day — about twice the number that die from a bad flu season — the administration sees that the coronavirus infections no longer are upending every day life the way they had for the past three years. Much of that is because of the protections vaccines and treatments have offered.

On Monday, the White House said the nation needs an orderly transition out of the public health emergency.

What changes can we expect?

Covid-19 tests, vaccines, and treatments will no longer be free, as many will see out-of-pocket expenses increase.

  • For Medicare beneficiaries, vaccines will continue to be free, as will testing ordered by a health care provider. At home testing and all treatments will face out-of-pocket costs.
  • State Medicaid programs will continue paying for vaccines and for ordered tests; but treatments will incur OOP costs.
  • Those with private insurance will likely face lab costs, even when ordered by a provider. Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be free if in-network, thanks to the ACA, the Inflation Reduction Act, and a covid relief package from 2020.

Medicare provisions to hospitals will end.

  • Hospitals have been receiving an additional 20% for Medicare’s payment rate for coronavirus treatments.

Medicaid enrollees will be reviewed for continued eligibility.

  • In March 2020, states were banned from removing people from Medicaid due to the health emergency, and enrollment skyrocketed to a record 90 million enrollees. Millions are expected to lose coverage.

Biden’s plan comes as Republicans are pushing to end the emergency immediately, with a vote expected on measures this week.

Instead of acting as a check on sweeping emergency powers and the administration’s COVID posture, the votes are now a question of whether the emergencies should be ended immediately or several months from now.


NYT, CNN, Axios