The Biden administration will end both the national emergency against COVID-19 and the public health emergency on May 11, the White House informed Congress on Monday evening.
The current public health emergency is in effect until April, while the national emergency is in effect until March. They started in 2020, soon after the start of the pandemic.
“Currently, the administration’s plan is to extend the emergency declarations until May 11 and then end both emergencies on that date. This suspension will be consistent with the administration’s previous commitments to provide at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of PHE,” the administration wrote in a letter to Congress.
“To be clear, the continuation of these emergency declarations through May 11 does not impose any restrictions on individual behavior regarding COVID-19,” the administration wrote. “They don’t enforce mask mandates or vaccine mandates. They do not restrict school or business operations. They do not require the use of any drugs or tests in response to cases of COVID-19.”
The impact of ending the public health emergency will come into sharper focus over the next three months as various agencies across the federal government determine which related programs can continue without an order in place — and how to roll back programs that cannot.
One potential impact will be on hospitals and doctors’ offices, which have come to rely on higher rates for Medicare patients and more flexibility on bed capacity rules when there is a surge in patients.
States will also soon be exempt from sharing data with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has mandated information such as the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 during the public health emergency — a change that could lead to more -murky future picture of COVID-19 in the US
A senior administration official told ABC News that the CDC will contact states in the coming months to encourage them to continue sharing this information voluntarily.
The public health emergency is also affecting the health coverage Americans rely on for free COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and testing. While vaccines will remain largely free for people with insurance even after the emergency ends — as long as they’re administered by an in-network provider — free treatment and testing may be less of a guarantee.
A senior administration official predicted that the change would be relatively minor, and that instead the bigger change in COVID-19 coverage would come later this year, when the government stops buying and distributing vaccines, tests and treatments for free to all Americans and insurance companies began to absorb the costs, moving the entire system to the private market.
People on Medicaid may also face changes to their health care coverage after April 1, when states will again be able to drop enrollees who are no longer eligible for the program.
So far, states have been barred from ending people’s Medicaid coverage during the pandemic, even if the enrollee’s circumstances change and they no longer qualify, as a matter of public health emergency. According to a group of Republican governors who in December pressured the Biden administration to end the public health emergency, the Medicaid expansion has led to an increase of roughly 20 million people on the program’s rolls since the pandemic began.
At least 13 percent of Medicaid recipients could be dropped from their coverage after the rules change, according to a survey compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) of about 20 states.
The end of the public health emergency could also end Title 42, the order that allowed the Trump and Biden administrations to turn many migrants back at the border, citing the potential spread of the virus.
The Biden administration supports “an orderly, predictable shutdown of Section 42, with sufficient time to implement alternative policies,” the administration said in Monday’s announcement.