On the eve of a scheduled House vote on a bill that would immediately end the federal public health emergency (PHE), the Biden administration announced Monday that both the PHE and the COVID national emergency will end on May 11. With the Omnibus legislation passed at the end of December, Congress already decoupled several key provisions once tied to the PHE, including setting April 1st as the date on which states can resume Medicaid redeterminations, and extending key Medicare telehealth flexibilities.
However, once the PHE ends, various other provider flexibilities will expire: hospitals will no longer receive boosted Medicare payments for COVID admissions, and the cost of COVID tests, vaccines, and treatments will shift from the government to insurers and consumers.
The Gist: While previous Congressional action addressed some pressing provider concerns, the end of the PHE will still bring big changes.
The healthcare system will soon be responsible for covering, testing, and treating COVID like any other illness, even as the virus continues to take the lives of hundreds of Americans each day.
Many patients may soon find it difficult to access affordable COVID care, and many health systems will see an increase in uncompensated care, exacerbating current margin challenges. COVID remains an urgent public health concern in need of a coordinated strategy.