How President Biden’s plan to end Covid-19 emergencies will impact you

President Joe Biden intends to end the Covid-19 national and public health emergencies on May 11th.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:44 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - President Joe Biden intends to end the Covid-19 national and public health emergencies on May 11th. That means free COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments could come to an end for many Americans.

The advance notice is meant to give states, health care providers and the public time to adjust to the change. One local pharmacist says, if at-home tests suddenly cost money, that could ending up costing all of us. “I would see it being a barrier to some people being able to say, ‘Well, I’m not feeling well, should I go get a COVID test? Or should I wait it out?’” That’s according to Hashan Bhim of Star Discount Pharmacy in Huntsville.

For the past three years, the federal government picked up the tab for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. The goal was to minimize the impact of the pandemic. Come May, the cost will come out of your pocket.

Doctor Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health says what you’ll pay depends on your insurance. “It means that, in particular, some Americans, actually many Americans will now have out of pocket costs potentially when they’re having testing and treatments for COVID-19,” Dr. Stubblefield said.

The health expert uses this analogy when it comes to getting the shot once the emergency declarations end in May. “It would be more like getting a flu test at a physician’s office, as opposed to being free as it’s been in the past,” said Dr. Stubblefield. “For insured persons with a for an implemented vaccine, they may pay as little as $20 as a copay.”

Local Pharmacist Hashan Bhim is hopeful these added costs will have people scrambling to get vaccinated or boosted. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that is something that the public would kind of move forward towards doing,” Bhim said. “So yes, I would anticipate to see an influx.”

That’s the positive outlook. But Dr. Stubblefield worries that a certain group will suffer once the COVID-19 emergencies end. “The thing we worry most about with the end of the public health emergency is with our Medicaid population,” said Dr. Stubblefield. “Part of the funding for the P.H.E. is that Medicaid was not allowed to drop recipients from their roles if they didn’t re-enroll. And that will end as soon as the P.H.E ends.”

As far as COVID-19 cases here in Alabama, Dr. Stubblefield says we’re seeing around 900 cases per day on average, which is down from about 1,500 cases per day at the beginning of the year.

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