What’s next as Biden ends Covid national emergency?


People across the US are wondering “What’s next?” as President Joe Biden has moved to end the Covid-19 national emergency, a month ahead of schedule, under pressure from the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

The emergency will be on May 11 after Biden signs off on the decree. Not much is expected to change dramatically or alter the situation except that warnings launched in January will continue from the Biden administration that the public health emergency too quickly would wreak havoc, according to media reports.

“An abrupt end to the emergency declaration would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans,” the White House had first warned in a policy memo even after the Republicans wrested the House and took control in January.

Biden had first said he planned to end both emergencies in mid-May, opposed efforts by legislators to scrap the emergency declarations.

However, the effort gained traction with bipartisan steam despite those warnings, and 11 House Democrats went alongside Republicans to advance the resolution ending the pandemic-era national emergency.

Later, after Biden suggested he would not veto the measure if it arrived at his desk, only 23 Senate Democrats opposed ending the emergency, media reports said.

“It’s largely a symbolic measure,” Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Washington Examiner. “Its biggest impact is the symbolism of ending it.”

The Examiner pointed out that most of the programs ending now because the national emergency is over, have either already wound down or are no longer broadly necessary.

The extended time frames for COBRA coverage, a health insurance employees can choose for a short time frame since losing jobs, will no longer be required 60 days after Biden signed the bill ending the national emergency; the need for longer COBRA coverage has fallen dramatically since the pandemic anyway, reports said.

Medicaid regulations requiring states to offer services covered by the program state-wide, if applicable by states, will see the waiver expiring.

The end of the national emergency will do little to change things for most people. The end of the public health emergency could bring more dramatic changes.

For instance, the patient’s ability to seek treatment with controlled substances, such as ADHD medicine, to get care virtually, may continue or go.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed continuing those arrangements, subject to an authorization which could however lapse once the public health emergency does.

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