COVID-era Funding Coming To An End
With COVID-era funding coming to an end, we look back on a pandemic that was something, even in our elders’ living memory, no one could have fathomed. Political turmoil, masks becoming a ubiquitous standard, and not being able to physically interact with one another became commonplace. Programs to assist people in need also became common. However, now that the national health emergency is ending, so are those programs.
At least 20 million people became Medicaid-eligible during or shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the public health emergency, states did not check the eligibility of patients. However, soon states will begin checking Medicaid eligibility again, as the federal government will now allow states to determine who is eligible. While many adults will lose their access to Medicaid, children likely will not.
Many positive impacts have resulted from the emergency, such as easier access to vaccines, telehealth resources and waivers, and the treatment of opioid use disorders. Hospitals were also able to temporarily expand their facilities to admit more patients under the CARES Act. The overall number of uninsured Americans decreased from 10.1% in 2019 to 8.4% in 2022, and the number of Americans with private insurance also increased.
COVID-era Funding Coming To An End By August
As the public emergency winds down, much of the funding provided to these hospitals and healthcare facilities by the “Hospitals Without Walls” program will diminish by the end of August. The federal government even relaxed HIPAA rules for providers who practiced in different states from those of the patients they were serving. The federal government will start being stricter on these telehealth rules which have a grace period scheduled to end on August 9th.
Despite the end of the public health emergency, many Medicare patients will retain access to the changes made during the pandemic.
Rate Of Uninsured Americans Has Significantly Decreased
While the rate of uninsured Americans has significantly decreased, new legislation will have to be passed to prevent many from losing their healthcare coverage. Although added funding provided by Congress will also diminish, the federal government will allow former Medicaid patients to apply for individual health insurance within 60 days of losing their coverage.
Concerns Remain For Many Patients
With all these changes, concerns remain for many patients that were covered by expanded Medicaid coverage, the CARES Act, changes to telehealth rules & eligibility, and former COVID-19 patients. Also, the need for behavioral healthcare has increased dramatically since 2019. While the healthcare industry is adapting to the return to pre-pandemic standards, the question of healthcare coverage will remain and will continue to be a topic of conversation for many.
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