The Biden administration has announced that the public health emergency declared at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic will end on May 11. Several policy shifts that will affect patients, healthcare providers, and states will be implemented as a result of the demise of the so-called PHE. But Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have been pushing for months to remove the “emergency” label.
In the meantime, anti-abortion groups are pushing for even stricter restrictions on the procedure, claiming that Republicans did poorly because they were not strident enough on abortion issues, despite widespread public support for maintaining access to abortion.
We have Julie Rovner from KHN, Victoria Knight from Axios, Rachel Roubein from The Washington Post, and Margot Sanger-Katz from The New York Times on the panel this week.
The lessons of this week’s episode include:
- This week, the Biden administration announced the end of the covid public health emergency in May, putting an end to many of the government’s allowances of leeway to healthcare providers during the pandemic that helped them better meet the needs of their patients.
- Congress has already extended some of the most significant changes made during the covid era, including increased access to telehealth and Medicare coverage for the antiviral medication Paxlovid. For the Medicaid mandate’s elimination, lawmakers have established a separate deadline. Meanwhile, the White House is disputing rumours that free vaccines, testing, and treatments will end with the end of the public health emergency.
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- A recent survey by the KFF reveals that many people are unsure about the legality of the abortion pill in their state and how to obtain it. About half of all abortions in the United States now involve the use of medication, and advocates have declared that this trend will continue to shape the future of abortion.
- As for abortion politics, the Republican National Committee recently passed a resolution encouraging candidates to “go on the offence” in 2024 and push for stricter abortion laws. Republican congressional leaders disappointed abortion opponents last year by failing to pass a federal gestational limit on abortion, and the party is sending signals that it wants to appeal to its conservative base in this presidential election year by reversing that position.
- The government has announced this week that it will conduct an audit of Medicare Advantage plans to check for overbilling. But the government, according to a KHN exclusive, will only go back a few years in its clawbacks, allowing many plans to keep the money it overpaid them. This year, most seniors are expected to sign up for Medicare Advantage.