House Republicans recently passed a bill to end the COVID-19 public health emergency, which was first declared in 2020. Although the bill is unlikely to be approved by the Democratic Senate, it represents the GOP’s disapproval of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic.
Biden announced plans to end the COVID-19 emergency on May 11, but the Republicans’ bill, known as the Pandemic is Over Act, was passed in a 220-210 vote and would terminate the public health declaration immediately, bringing an end to the federal government’s ability to develop and offer COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments for free. According to the Washington Examiner, it would also end continuous enrollment for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has provided health insurance to millions during the pandemic.
Biden previously claimed that ending the emergency without time to transition the COVID-19 response to the commercial market would “create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system” and vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
The White House has warned that tens of millions of Americans could suddenly lose their health insurance, and hospitals and nursing homes would be plunged into chaos, leading to disruptions in care and payment delays. However, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise credited the GOP’s legislation for putting pressure on Biden to end the emergency. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office showed that ending the COVID-19 public health emergency before July 2023 would reduce federal costs by at least $2 billion.