President Biden to end emergency declarations for COVID

Those free at home COVID tests are expected to be a thing of the past after the emergency declaration ends.
Posted at 12:24 PM, Feb 01, 2023

On May 11, both the National Emergency and Public Health Emergency Declarations for COVID will end.  

The shift will impact Medicare and Medicaid, telehealth, medical research, and access to tests, treatments and vaccines. 

Public health expert Dr. Amesh Adalja spoke with Scripps News while traveling as the news came out — he’s not surprised.  

"When we look at what triggered the public health and national emergency, it really was hospitals worried about the ability to care for patients. And that's no longer been a threat," Adalja said. 

Those free at home COVID tests are expected to be a thing of the past after the emergency declaration ends.  

The same goes for treatments like Paxlovid. Instead, insurance companies and the manufacturers will decide a price.  

"We know right now that the publicly reported numbers for COVID-19 are just the tip of the iceberg because so many people are being diagnosed by these at-home tests. And those data don't flow into the reported numbers," said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Monitoring wastewater for COVID surges or trends will continue to be important. It gives the most accurate picture if fewer people in a community are testing.  

Other changes: hospitals won't get extra payments for treating COVID patients. COVID vaccines will also stop being free when the government stops buying them.  

Pfizer has said it plans to charge up to $130 per dose.   

About 15% of Americans have gotten the update COVID booster since it came out last fall. 

We’ll need to wait and see how telehealth will be impacted. Online doctor appointments soared in the early days of COVID, but have since declined.

"Telemedicine has less stringent regulation now because of the pandemic. State license portability, moving from one state to another for doctors, nurses, those types of things, are quite on to some of these public health emergencies. That's something that probably needs to be permanent," Adalja said.  

CDC numbers show more than 1.1 million Americans died from COVID since 2020 — about 3,700 of them just last week.

President Biden to end COVID-19 emergencies May 11

President Biden to end COVID-19 emergencies May 11

This comes as lawmakers have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic.