COVID Emergencies to End on May 11

Patients will have to pay more drug, treatment costs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2023 5:55 PM CST
COVID Emergencies to End on May 11
President Biden talks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11, as most of the world has returned closer to normalcy nearly three years after they were first declared. The move to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response to treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies' normal authorities. Lawmakers have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic, the AP reports.

Combined with the drawdown of most federal COVID-19 relief money, the move would shift the development of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government. Biden's announcement came in a statement opposing resolutions being brought to the floor this week by House Republicans to bring the emergency to an immediate end. House Republicans are also gearing up to launch investigations on the federal government's response to COVID-19. Then-President Donald Trump first declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on March 13, 2020. The White House said Biden plans to extend both emergencies to end on May 11.

Ending the emergency declarations abruptly would cause chaos in the health care system, the Office of Management and Budget said. The costs of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to skyrocket once the government stops buying them, with Pfizer saying it will charge as much as $130 per dose. Once the emergency expires, people with private insurance will have some out-of-pocket costs for vaccines, tests, and treatment, while the uninsured will have to pay for those expenses in their entirety. Moments before the White House announcement, Republican Rep. Tom Cole accused the president of unnecessarily extending the public health emergency to take action on issues like forgiving some student loan debts. "It is time that the government acknowledges this reality: The pandemic is over," Cole said Monday, introducing a bill calling for an end to the health emergency. (More President Biden stories.)

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