The United States has seen soaring numbers in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, indicating that the end of the pandemic may still be far away. However, the public health emergency, which benefits many Americans amid the crisis, will expire in the middle of January.
Millions of people at risk across the United States could lose their Medical enrollment amid a record-breaking current surge in COVID-19 cases as the deadline of public health emergency approaches, unless President Joe Biden extends the duration of the public health emergency (PHE), which grants continuous coverage to Medicaid enrollees for the duration of the federally declared public health emergency, as per Salon report.
Experts warn Biden
Health experts and advocates warn that if the Biden administration does not renew the PHE, which has been renewed several times since the start of the pandemic in 2020 as per CNN, it could result in a massive disenrollment in Medicaid.
Mark Parkinson, president, and CEO of the American Health Care Association, wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra this week saying that the assistance for people should not stop at this point when COVID-19 cases are fast rising due to omicron.
"We strongly encourage you to continue to extend the PHE declaration and maintain the related Section 1135 and Section 1812(f) waivers, enhanced Medicaid [assistance] to states, and state Medicaid policy flexibilities, such as the waiver for Medicaid determinations," he said in the letter.
Cambridge Health Alliance's Dr. Adam Gaffney said that the continuous coverage provision in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been able to help millions of people to maintain their insurance in the ongoing pandemic.
The critical care physician warned that the Biden administration should be extra careful for "kicking people out of Medicaid will kill many." He added that the refusal of Republican-led states to extend the measure has been deadly, based on research.
Washington DC-based think tank Urban Institute estimated that around 8.7 adults and 5.9 children are at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage this year if the Biden administration fails to renew the PHE, as per NBC.
Expiration of PHE will worsen crisis
The situation is a serious concern for many individuals in the United States now who are struggling to keep themselves afloat in this time of health and economic crisis, according to Stan Dorn, director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA, a left-leaning consumer health advocacy organization.
He said when the PHE expires, Medicaid beneficiaries might lose their enrollment from the program even for a minor issue such as not updating their data or missing a letter in their mail about their change of status due to eviction, bad internet access to upload paperwork, and difficulty in the English language.
"If English isn't your primary language if you have to upload paperwork and don't have good internet access if you're working multiple jobs, this isn't going to be an easy nut to crack," Dorn said.
Experts at the Commonwealth Fund explained in a blog post that when the PHE expires, there will be a redetermination of millions of Medicaid beneficiaries, resulting in coverage losses that could affect Black and Latinx individuals who have suffered from dislocation other risks during the pandemic.
They recommended that every sector of society and government agencies work together to ensure that millions will still be keeping assistance even after the PHE expires.