As COVID-19 cases continue to fall across the country, the Biden Administration is considering the official end of the related Public Health Emergency (PHE). First declared in early 2020, the PHE ensures that states cannot involuntarily disenroll anyone from Medicaid who was enrolled on or after March 18, 2020, regardless of changes in income, age, or nonpayment of premiums. The PHE also provides greater flexibility on the use of telehealth services and other home and community-based services. Many advocates are concerned about the implications for service providers and Medicaid recipients over how states will respond when the PHE is rescinded and are working to make some of flexibilities, such as the telehealth provisions, permanent. While the Administration is considering when to officially end the PHE, it has pledged to provide a 60-day notice before making the final decision. Given that, the PHE is currently not expected to end before July.
On Capitol Hill, Congress was in recess this week, but other major developments included:
- The response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: President Biden announced additional sanctions against Russia and a further build-up of American troops to NATO nations in Eastern Europe, but members of Congress from both parties are urging President Biden to go even further, by targeting Russia’s energy sector and Putin himself, as well as further increasing military aid to Ukraine.
- The nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. Court of Appeals to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
- A request from the Biden administration for $30 billion in emergency aid from Capitol Hill for “near-term” COVID-19 funds.
- Continued negotiations on a long-term government funding bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2022, which began on October 1, 2021. The current short-term funding bill, passed last week, runs through March 11, and both sides are optimistic a deal will be reached before that time.