President Joe Biden intends to end the Covid-19 national and public health emergencies on May 11, the White House said Monday. That means that many Americans could have to start paying for Covid-19 testing and treatment after the declarations cease.
The White House, in a statement of administration policy announcing opposition to two House Republican measures to end the emergencies, said the national emergency and public health emergency authorities declared in response to the pandemic would each be extended one final time to May 11.
“This wind down would align with the Administration’s previous commitments to give at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of the (public health emergency),” the statement said.
Benefits allowed by emergencies will disappear
The public health emergency has enabled the government to provide many Americans with Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines at no charge, as well as offer enhanced social safety net benefits, to help the nation cope with the pandemic and minimize its impact.
“People will have to start paying some money for things they didn’t have to pay for during the emergency,” said Jen Kates, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “That’s the main thing people will start to notice.”
Most Americans covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans have been able to obtain Covid-19 tests and vaccines at no cost during the pandemic. Those covered by Medicare and private insurance have been able to get up to eight at-home tests per month from retailers at no charge. Medicaid also picks up the cost of at-home tests, though coverage can vary by state.
Those covered by Medicare and Medicaid have also had certain therapeutic treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, fully covered.
Once the emergency ends, Medicare beneficiaries generally will face out-of-pocket costs for at-home testing and all treatment. However, vaccines will continue to be covered at no cost, as will testing ordered by a health care provider.
State Medicaid programs will have to continue covering Covid-19 tests ordered by a physician and vaccines at no charge. But enrollees may face out-of-pocket costs for treatments.
Those with private insurance could face charges for lab tests, even if they are ordered by a provider. Vaccinations will continue to be free for those with private insurance who go to in-network providers, but going to an out-of-network providers could incur charges.
Covid-19 vaccinations will be free for those with insurance even when the public health emergency ends because of various federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act and pandemic-era measures, the Inflation Reduction Act and a 2020 relief package.
Americans with private insurance have not been charged for monoclonal antibody treatment since they were prepaid by the federal government, though patients may be charged for the office visit or administration of the treatment. But that is not tied to the public health emergency, and the free treatments will be available until the federal supply …