What End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in U.S. Means – TIME

by | Jan 31, 2023 | COVID-19

Almost since the emergence of COVID-19, the U.S. has treated the disease as both a national and public health emergency. That will end on May 11, 2023, the Biden Administration announced Jan. 30. The decision to end these important designations will have wide-ranging impacts on many health measures that Americans have come to take for granted over the past few years, including free vaccines, booster shots, tests, and treatments. Declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency (PHE) in Jan. 2020 allowed the federal government—via a COVID-19 response led by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—to access funds and resources to pay for everything from personal protective equipment such as masks, to tests and vaccines, and respond in other ways to the pandemic. Under the PHE, the government could also modify Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies to increase access to treatments and other resources critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19. Two months later, President Trump declared a national emergency surrounding COVID-19, which opened up additional funding for the response, including continued coverage for people under Medicaid and expanded funds for hospitals to care for COVID-19 patients. The declarations allowed “a public health approach to health care during the pandemic,” says Dr. Josh Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They helped a lot of people to get services. Now we’re going back to a health care approach to health care, and t …

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