Brian Blase quoted in Wall Street Journal: Biden Administration to Continue Pandemic Health Emergency

On May 16, 2022, it became clear that the Biden Administration would extend the COVID-19 public-health emergency yet again. The administration had said they would give states 60 days’ notice if it planned to end the emergency, which was set to expire on July 15, 2022.

From The Wall Street Journal:

[During the emergency,] Congress approved extra federal funds to states for [Medicaid] during the pandemic, but states had to agree not to oust anyone from [the program] during the public-health emergency.

Typically, there is lots of churn in Medicaid as enrollees move in and out of the program due to fluctuating incomes. The disenrollment prohibition has helped drive Medicaid enrollment to a record 85 million people, an increase of 19% since the start of the pandemic.

More than 11 million people have newly enrolled in Medicaid since March 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Once it ends, an estimated five million to 14 million people could be disenrolled as federal funding is reduced, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The number will keep growing as the public-health emergency is extended.

The extension concerns some conservative health policy leaders who say it will drive more federal spending for people who shouldn’t be enrolled in the program.

“By keeping the public-health emergency extended, they’ve made the problem worse,” said Brian Blase, president of Paragon Health Institute, which analyzes government health programs and policies. “It’s a huge amount of government waste in spending.”

Many of the individuals who are found ineligible for Medicaid may be eligible for subsidies and coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, but health advocates are concerned that many will fall through the cracks because they won’t transition to another type of program or insurance.

According to WSJ, “The lack of an alert to states means the declaration will be renewed for up to 90 days”.

The full article can be found in The Wall Street Journal.

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