WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just under three years since the start of the COVID-19 national public health emergency, the House took up legislation Tuesday to declare an immediate end to the pandemic.
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It comes just a day after President Joe Biden said he plans to end the COVID-19 health emergency declarations on May 11.
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The end of the emergency means many Americans may have to start paying for COVID tests and treatments. The only question now is when.
Republicans argue the end is long overdue, while Democrats warn ending it too abruptly could plunge the healthcare system into “chaos.”
“Force the federal government to acknowledge what the American people already know,” New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik argued. “The pandemic is over.”
Happening today: The House will vote on two proposals to end COVID-19 mandates. One will end a COVID vaccine mandate for certain healthcare workers at facilities with Medicare/Medicaid programs. And another bill ends the public health emergency immediately.— Samantha Manning (@SamManningNews) January 31, 2023
The house took up another GOP bill that would end the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for certain healthcare workers at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
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“We are moving the federal government away from its perpetual COVID state,” Minnesota Republican Rep. Tom Emmer said.
House Democrats say they stand by President Biden’s May 11 timeline.
“We think the administration having a timeline, having a plan to get there makes sense,” California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar said. “What Republicans have advocated and pushed for is more abrupt and immediate.”
The Biden Administration argues an abrupt end to the COVID-19 health emergency would lead to “wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system.”
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A memo from the Office of Management and Budget points to concerns about tens of millions of Americans being at risk of suddenly losing their health insurance, and the risk of hospitals and nursing homes not having enough time to establish new policies and training.
The House bills are not expected to pass in the Senate or ever make it to the President’s desk, meaning his May 11 timeline is likely to hold up for now.
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