WASHINGTON, DC – As expected, the Biden administration has again renewed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.  The provision gives the administration authority to respond to the pandemic as cases are again on the rise.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the declaration on January 11, 2023, the expiration date of the previous renewal.  It is an expected move because officials have promised a 60-day notice if they do not plan to renew the emergency.

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha says, “there’s still a lot of Covid out there, and the public health emergency and his (Becerra’s) determination gives us tools to fight this.”  Jha stressed that the decision to renew the declaration was based on several reasons, including the new, highly contagious XBB.1.5 variant.

The federal government spending law enacted in December 2022 decoupled several major relief measures from the public health emergency.

The package is now phasing out the requirement that prevents states from disenrolling Medicaid recipients as long as the public health emergency is in effect in exchange for an enhanced federal match. This coverage measure was enacted in March 2020 and led to a record 90 million enrollees in Medicaid, many of whom may no longer meet the income requirements to qualify.

Now, states can begin processing Medicaid redeterminations as of April 1, regardless of when the public health emergency ends. Estimates vary on how many people would lose their Medicaid benefits, though they range as high as 19 million.