Much of President Joe Biden’s policy agenda, including flagship promises like student loan debt relief, is dependent on keeping the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in place.
Biden declared to “60 Minutes” on Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic is “over,” but the Department of Health and Human Services told the Daily Caller this week that there are no plans for the administration to rescind the emergency declaration first implemented by former President Donald Trump in the early days of the pandemic. One key reason may be that the emergency declaration is the linchpin keeping together a whole host of policies key to the Biden agenda.
15 million Americans risk losing health coverage once the pandemic emergency is declared over. Some are urging on the Biden Administration to end the emergency as soon as possible. 11/ https://t.co/C03UTrA6rE
— Gregg Gonsalves (@gregggonsalves) September 17, 2022
Biden’s recent decision to offer $10,000 of relief for student debt holders, and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, was done under the pretext that there’s a national ongoing public health emergency. The powers used by Biden to offer the relief are only constitutional if the national emergency remains active.
That isn’t the only important policy that hinges on the public health emergency. Once it ends, as many as 15 million Americans could lose Medicaid coverage due to a rule which prevents states from kicking ineligible residents off of Medicaid rolls during the emergency, according to The Washington Post. That would be a big blow to the Biden administration, which touted earlier this year that the portion of Americans without healthcare coverage reached an all-time low in 2022.
Patients will also lose access to expanded telehealth services, which activists on both sides of the political aisle are fighting to keep in place, according to the outlet. Most Medicare enrollees will lose access to nearly all telehealth services, which boomed during the pandemic.
Critically, no treatment or preventative for COVID-19 that is currently under an emergency use authorization (EUA) will be available once the emergency ends. That includes treatments like Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral drug used to treat the coronavirus, and certain categories of vaccines, like those authorized for children under age five, according to the Associated Press.
The national emergency declaration has further been cited as legal justification for a number of pandemic policies still making their way through the court system, from vaccine mandates to mask orders. (RELATED: Biden Declaring The Pandemic ‘Over’ Stunned White House Officials: REPORT)
States and localities still have yet to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of COVID-19 relief funds. The administration is still pushing people to go out and get the new bivalent booster vaccine dose, designed to protect against the Omicron variant of the virus, according to Politico. That messaging is now directly contradicted by the president himself.
His advisers are already attempting to walk back the statement, though. Dr. Anthony Fauci took to Politico Monday to ensure America that Biden didn’t “really mean” that the pandemic is behind them.