On March 29, 2023, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that would end the COVID-19 national emergency declaration that has been in place since 2020. The U.S. House of Representatives voted in February to terminate the order, and President Joe Biden has indicated that he will sign the bill despite strongly opposing it. Biden had previously announced plans to end the national emergency declaration implemented by former President Donald Trump in May 2023.
The Senate passed the measure with bipartisan support in a 68-23 roll call vote, indicating that many believe the United States has emerged from the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration stated it would continue working with federal agencies to wind down the national emergency, providing as much notice as possible to impacted Americans.
Ending the COVID-19 national emergency declaration will remove special emergency powers given to the executive branch to act quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it could result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance and states losing billions of dollars in funding.
The emergency declaration permitted certain Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance requirements to be waived or modified and authorized medical countermeasures to help health care providers serve patients during the pandemic. According to the White House, ending the declaration could reduce funding to hospitals and nursing facilities that have relied on federal government flexibilities enabled by the emergency declaration, potentially leading to disruptions in care, payment delays and facilities losing revenues.
These are only a few examples of how ending the COVID-19 national emergency declaration could have wide-ranging impacts on individual Americans and health care providers. These impacts will likely vary by state. Additionally, Biden used powers under the national emergency declaration as the basis for the student loan forgiveness plan.
The White House reported that Biden said he will sign the resolution ending the emergency declaration. Considering the president’s willingness to end the national emergency declaration early, employers should continue to monitor the situation closely, as they will likely have to wait to see the full impact of ending the national emergency. CH Benefits will keep you apprised of notable changes.