On April 20, 2023, the Rare Disease Legislative Advocates (RDLA) hosted its monthly webinar. These webinars help provide updates to the rare disease community on legislation and other policy initiatives that are relevant to the treatment and management of rare diseases under the law. This month’s program focused on the conclusion of the COVID-19 national Public Health Emergency declaration and what it could mean for the rare disease community.
Speakers for this month’s program included:
- Nisha Quasba, Faegre Drinker Consulting
- Eric Gascho, National Health Council
- Gelila Selassie, Justice in Aging
Nisha notes that the ability to declare a National Emergency is within the executive branch’s scope of power. The Biden administration announced recently that the declaration that was originally issued during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be coming to an end. The official end date is slated for May 11, 2023.
The cessation of the national emergency means that several provisions that were improving healthcare access will begin winding down. Some examples include:
- Loss of health data monitoring that began during the pandemic.
- Full coverage of COVID vaccines and medication will end for Medicare recipients.
- Doctor licensure changes–during the pandemic, doctors were able to practice across state lines more easily
- Virtual prescription of controlled substances; this may end depending on a decision from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Notably, telehealth provisions that began during the pandemic have officially been extended to 2024.
Eric points out that the end of the emergency will also see changes to Medicaid. This program was expanded under the emergency declaration as millions of people lost health insurance due to layoffs. The federal government agreed to pay states to better fund their programs under the condition that states couldn’t take people off Medicaid enrollment. A record number of people gained health coverage during the pandemic. At least 14 million people are expected to lose Medicaid by year’s end.
Gelila discussed changes to Medicare that were enacted in late 2020 by the Trump administration, resulting in some people receiving less benefits than they would have before. This was especially an issue for people that qualified for (and were using) both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as senior citizens.
To watch the full program, click here.