25 Governors Pressure Biden Admin to End Public Health Emergency

Health


About three years into the Covid-19 pandemic, 25 governors wrote a letter Monday that urged President Joe Biden to put an end to the public health emergency.

The public health emergency is set to expire on January 11. However, the Biden administration has said that it will provide a 60-day notice before it decides to end the emergency. Since no warning was issued in November, it will likely be extended to April.

The letter requests Biden to allow the public health emergency to expire in April, and to provide states with advance notice of the decision so they can prepare. The governors who signed the letter include Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas. 

“While the virus will be with us for some time, the emergency phase of the pandemic is behind us,” the governors declared. “We have come so far since the beginning of the pandemic – we now have the tools and information necessary to help protect our communities from Covid-19.”

In 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed due to the pandemic. It banned states from disenrolling people from Medicaid during the public health emergency and gave states a temporary increase in the federal Medicaid match rates. States have added 20 million people to Medicaid since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the letter. This is hurting states, the governors argued.

“The [public health emergency] is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid (both traditional and expanded populations), regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program,” the letter stated. “While the enhanced federal match provides some assistance to blunt the increasing costs due to higher enrollment numbers in our Medicaid programs, states are required to increase our non-federal match to adequately cover all enrollees and cannot disenroll members from the program unless they do so voluntarily.”

The governors added that a “considerable number” of people have returned to employer-sponsored coverage or are receiving insurance through the individual market. 

“Yet states still must still account and pay for their Medicaid enrollment in our non-federal share. This is costing states hundreds of millions of dollars,” the governors said.

About 18 million people could lose Medicaid coverage once the public health emergency expires, including 3.8 million who would become completely uninsured, a recent Urban Institute report predicted.

The American Hospital Association pushed for the most recent extension of the public health emergency, stating in a July letter that hospitals would be largely impacted.

Credit: Geber86, Getty Images



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