It’s the end of an era.
The orders spanned two presidencies. The Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued a public health emergency in January 2020. Then-President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency 2 months later. Both emergency declarations – which remained in effect under President Joe Biden – are set to expire May 11.
Read on for an overview of how the end of the public health emergency will trigger multiple federal policy changes.
Changes that affect everyone
- There will be cost-sharing changes for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and certain treatments. One hundred–percent coverage for COVID testing, including free at-home tests, will expire May 11.
- Telemedicine cannot be used to prescribe controlled substances after May 11, 2023.
- Enhanced federal funding will be phased down through Dec. 31, 2023. This extends the time states must receive federally matched funds for COVID-related services and products, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. Otherwise, this would have expired June 30, 2023.
- Emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 treatments and vaccinations will not be affected and/or end on May 11.
Changes that affect people with private health insurance
- Many will likely see higher costs for COVID-19 tests, as free testing expires and cost-sharing begins in the coming months.
- COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters will continue to be covered until the federal government’s vaccination supply is depleted. If that happens, you will need an in-network provider.
- You will still have access to COVID-19 treatments – but that could change when the federal supply dwindles.
Changes that affect Medicare recipients
- Medicare telehealth flexibilities will be extended through Dec. 31, 2024, regardless of public health emergency status. This means people can access telehealth services from anywhere, not just rural areas; can use a smartphone for telehealth; and can access telehealth in their homes.
- Medicare cost-sharing for testing and treatments will expire May 11, except for oral antivirals.
Changes that affect Medicaid/CHIP recipients
- Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients will continue to receive approved vaccinations free of charge, but testing and treatment without cost-sharing will expire during the third quarter of 2024.
- The Medicaid continuous enrollment provision will be separated from the public health emergency, and continuous enrollment will end March 31, 2023.
Changes that affect uninsured people
- The uninsured will no longer have access to 100% coverage for these products and services (free COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, and testing).
Changes that affect health care providers
- There will be changes to how much providers get paid for diagnosing people with COVID-19, ending the enhanced Inpatient Prospective Payment System reimbursement rate, as of May 11, 2023.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) potential penalty waivers will end. This allows providers to communicate with patients through telehealth on a smartphone, for example, without violating privacy laws and incurring penalties.