Bloomberg: It's time to end the public health emergency

The number of powerful voices calling for an end to the nation's COVID-19 public health emergency is growing larger.

On Dec. 8, Michael Bloomberg wrote in his publication that it's time to pull the plug on the federal policy.

"In short: The pandemic is not over, but the public health emergency that turned our lives upside down is. And that means expanded executive authority should be rolled back," the billionaire and former New York City mayor wrote.

He noted the potential for an abuse of power under the PHE, specifically pointing to President Biden's push to forgive $400 billion in student loans and an eviction moratorium struck down by the Supreme Court.

"If Joe Biden is determined to renew [the PHE] and other emergency powers, he should make clear that it will be for the last time," Mr. Bloomberg wrote

Still, he acknowledged the reality of the pandemic currently and the PHE's necessity during the worst periods. The policy led to a complete overhaul of telehealth and who can use it, fast-tracked approvals of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and preserved healthcare coverage for millions of Medicaid beneficiaries nationwide.

The National Association of Medicaid Directors told congressional leaders Nov. 17 that a clearer picture is needed surrounding the end of the PHE's requirement to keep Medicaid members continuously enrolled, regardless of current income.

"The uncertainty around the PHE is no longer tenable," the group wrote. "NAMD strongly urges Congress to mitigate this yearslong uncertainty and provide firm commitments for states on timing and resources."

NAMD is asking Congress to provide at least 120 days notice of the start of the Medicaid redetermination period.

A 12th extension of the PHE is expected this spring because of a lack of public statement from HHS warning about a termination. The agency last renewed the PHE Oct. 13 for an additional 90 days to Jan. 11, 2023 — it also told states it would provide notice 60 days before deciding to end it, which would have been Nov. 11.

Eleven states also still have coinciding public health emergency orders in place.

The seven-day COVID-19 hospitalization average was 4,844 for the week ending Dec. 6, a 13.8 percent increase from the previous week's average, according to CDC data. The agency is forecasting that COVID-19 admissions will continue to rise over the next four weeks, with 3,100 to 14,300 new daily COVID-19 admissions likely reported on Dec. 30.

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