Aug 16, 2022 - Health

COVID public health emergency appears to be headed for extension

President Biden, wearing a mask, walks out of the White House toward the Rose Garden.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration appears headed toward extending the COVID-19 public health emergency for another three months, allowing special powers and programs to continue past the midterm election.

Driving the news: HHS had extended the emergency declaration through Oct. 13 and pledged it would give states and health providers 60 days' notice before it ends.

Why it matters: Lifting the emergency would bring major policy shifts to insurance markets, drug approvals and telehealth.

  • It also keeps in place a higher share of federal Medicaid spending if states offered continuous coverage to enrollees, avoiding the program's usual churn.
  • Ending the emergency would lead states to determine whether their Medicaid enrollees are still eligible for coverage — a huge undertaking that could result in millions of Americans being removed from the program.

Where things stand: After a long plateau, the number of new COVID cases have been falling and wastewater surveillance data has shown declines for three straight weeks, per Evercore ISI.

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