January 31, 2023: The U.S. plans to end COVID-19 emergency restrictions by May 11, according to a statement by the Office of Management and Budget.
The Donald Trump Administration declared a COVID-19 national and public health emergency on March 13, 2020.
They were set to expire on March 1 and April 11. The administration plans to extend the emergency declarations to May 11 and end both emergencies on that date.
This wind-down would align with the administration’s previous commitments to give at least 60 days notice prior to termination of the public health emergency.
The continuation of these emergency declarations until May 11 does not impose any restriction on individual conduct regarding COVID-19, according to the statement.
“They do not impose mask mandates or vaccine mandates. They do not restrict school or business operations. They do not require the use of any medicines or tests in response to cases of COVID-19.,” according to the statement.
However, ending these emergency declarations would significantly impact our nation’s health system and government operations.
First, an abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system — for states, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, tens of millions of Americans.
During the public health emergency, the Medicaid program has operated under special rules to provide extra funding to states to ensure that tens of millions of vulnerable Americans kept their Medicaid coverage during a global pandemic.
In December, Congress enacted an orderly wind-down of these rules to ensure that patients did not lose access to care unpredictably and that state budgets don’t face a radical cliff.
If public emergencies are suddenly stopped, it will sow confusion and chaos in this critical wind-down.
“Due to this uncertainty, tens of millions of Americans could be at risk of abruptly losing their health insurance, and states could be at risk of losing billions of dollars in funding,” according to the statement.
Hospital, nursing homes
Additionally, hospitals and nursing homes that have relied on flexibilities enabled by the emergency declarations will be plunged into chaos without adequate time to retrain staff.
The hospitals will have to establish new billing processes, likely leading to disruptions in care and payment delays, and many facilities around the country will experience revenue losses.
Finally, millions of patients, including many of our nation’s veterans, who rely on telehealth would suddenly be unable to access critical clinical services and medications.
Second, ending the public health emergency will terminate the Title 42 policy at the border. The procedure will expel migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti caught crossing the US-Mexico border back to Mexico, which would block more nationalities from seeking asylum in the U.S.
According to the government, title 42 remains in place because of orders issued by the Supreme Court and a district court in Louisiana.
Enactment of H.R. 382 would lift Title 42 immediately and result in a substantial additional inflow of migrants at the Southwest border.
The number of migrants crossing the border has been cut in half since the administration implemented a plan in early January to deter irregular migration from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
The administration supports an orderly, predictable wind-down of Title 42, with sufficient time to implement alternative policies.
If H.R. 382 becomes law and the Title 42 restrictions end precipitously, Congress will effectively be requiring the administration to allow thousands of migrants per day into the country immediately without the necessary policies in place.
The administration strongly opposes the enactment of H.R. 382 and H.J. Res. 7, which would be a grave disservice to the American people.