An official declaration of a public health emergency (PHE) by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gives the organization more time, money, and power to manage a health crisis. The PHE declaration for COVID-19 was initially made in January 2020 by then-Secretary Alex Azar, and it has subsequently been extended lots of times.
When a PHE is declared, specific legal authorities are activated that enable the government to handle the crisis more effectively. For instance, the PHE declaration for COVID-19 loosened several rules for hospitals and healthcare providers, allowed for more access to telehealth services, and increased financing for testing, treatment, and immunizations.
On January 21, the most current PHE for COVID-19 is due to expire, and if it does, the government will no longer have access to certain of the resources and authority that were made available as a result of the declaration. Millions of Americans’ access to Medicare and Medicaid could be at risk if the PHE is not renewed.
The Secretary of HHS decides whether to extend or end a PHE based on the severity of the crisis and the capacity of the government to manage it. When making this choice, consideration will be given to variables such as the number of cases, hospitalizations, fatalities, and the accessibility of vaccines and treatments.
The Public Health Emergency is expected to be extended in this case, but under different conditions than before, with the majority of the financing being allocated to targeted, specific areas and a strong focus located on equity issues.
Table Of Contents
What is a Public Health Emergency?
A serious situation where a disease outbreak or bioterrorist attack poses a serious risk to the health and welfare of a community or population is called a public health emergency. A public health emergency may be declared for a term of 90 days under the Public Health Service Act of 1944, according to the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The government can now access funding and hire more people in order to avoid, prepare for, or respond to emergencies thanks to this designation.
Additionally, a declaration of a public health emergency permits the suspension of some rules for schemes like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As a result, the emergency can be handled with more resources and flexibility. Additionally, during a public health emergency, limits on telemedicine can be relaxed, making it simpler for people to get medical care remotely.
Additionally, during a public health emergency, limits on telemedicine can be relaxed, making it simpler for people to get medical care remotely. Additionally, during a public health emergency, limits on telemedicine can be relaxed, making it simpler for people to get medical care remotely.
Public health emergencies can have a huge effect on communities and populations, as we have witnessed during the current COVID-19 epidemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 20 million people have signed up for Medicaid since the pandemic began, a 30% increase over usual enrollment. This emphasizes the significance of putting in place the appropriate processes and resources to respond to public health emergencies.
Public health emergencies are generally critical conditions that call for a concerted effort from the public sector, the medical community, and local populations. The Public Health Service Act of 1944 gives the government the authority to take action to safeguard the citizens’ health and welfare and to be ready for emergencies.
When is the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Set to Expire?
The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency due of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has been going on for more than two years. The first declaration of the emergency was made on January 31, 2020, and it has since been renewed 11 times, with the most recent extension being on October 13, 2022. The public health emergency order is now set to expire on January 11, 2023, but according to the HHS, it will be provided with 60 days’ notice. No such order has yet been issued as of right now.
It is important to note that the HHS would not decide when the public health emergency would expire; rather, the decision would be based on the pandemic’s current state. The directive would not expire this month, according to several Biden administration officials who told Reuters in November, citing the potential for a COVID rise this winter and the need for more time to make the switch to private coverage.
The White House hopes to put an end to the public health emergency this spring, according to recent reports. A 90-day extension would extend the deadline until the beginning of April.
Every aspect of our lives has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic, which has also had a big impact on communities and populations. It is obvious that the government must continue to take action to safeguard the health and welfare of its people and to be ready for emergencies. The choice of when to call off the public health emergency will need a careful balancing act between preserving public health and enabling the nation to resume normal operations.
What Happens When the Public Health Emergency Ends?
A public health emergency declaration, like the one in effect for COVID-19 right now, coming to an end might have a big impact on patients and medical professionals.
One of the biggest changes would be that people and their health insurance providers would likely be responsible for covering the cost of COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment.
As the retail price of vaccines like Pfizer’s two-dose COVID vaccine is expected to rise significantly from the present government rate, this might be a significant financial burden for many people. For instance, it is anticipated that the price of each shot will rise from $30 to between $110 and $130.
Thus, the price of the entire two-dose course of the vaccination might reach $260. Other COVID-19 treatment choices, including the antiviral medication Paxlovid, which has been shown to be highly successful in lowering the risk of serious illness, would also be impacted by this price increase.
The US government currently pays $530 for a course of the medication, but it is not yet known what the retail price will be.