Last week, the Biden administration announced that it will end the federal Covid-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11. Sources close to the White House say that the administration will soon release a roadmap for what the end of the PHE will look like for the public, federal agencies and the healthcare system. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), sent a letter and fact sheet to state governors detailing what the end of the PHE will mean for residents of their states. “Addressing COVID-19 remains a significant public health priority for the Administration, and over the next few months, we will transition our COVID-19 policies, as well as the current flexibilities enabled by the COVID-19 emergency declarations, into improving standards of care for patients. We will work closely with partners including state, local, Tribal, and territorial agencies, industry, and advocates, to ensure an orderly transition,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
The Biden Administration has said it wanted to give at least a 60-day notice for states to begin preparing for the end of the PHE, as a sudden end to the emergency would have far-reaching consequences for various stakeholders, including state health departments, hospitals, and Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. The end of the PHE is also expected to increase the cost of vaccines, put an end to free at-home COVID tests, and sunset some Medicare and state Medicaid flexibilities provided during the emergency. The end of the PHE ultimately signals that the Biden administration believes the country has moved out of the emergency response phase.