The COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency declarations are set to end on May 11, according to a Jan. 30 statement from the White House.
What does the expiration date mean for dentists and dental patients?
One result is that many dentists will no longer be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
In March 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amended an emergency declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act that authorized additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 nationwide.
After the May 11 deadline, those providers will no longer be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccines if the states they are licensed in don’t already authorize them to do so.
The end of the public health emergency also affects many patients enrolled in Medicaid.
In 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act began providing an enhanced federal medical assistance percentage to help states support their Medicaid programs. In order to get this funding, states were required to keep people continuously enrolled in Medicaid. Now that the public health emergency is ending, some patients could lose access coverage.
Following the May 11 expiration, states will have up to 12 months to return to normal eligibility and enrollment operations, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which called the expiration of the continuous coverage requirement "the single largest health coverage transition event since the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act." The White House statement said it hopes the “wind down” period will “ensure patients don’t lose access unpredictably and that state budgets don’t face a radical cliff.” For example, patients could sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act or their employer.
The ADA is following this transition and will be sharing updates on how states implement this change and how it will impact providers. For now, the Association recommends dentists utilize the resources and tools from the Unwinding and Returning to Regular Operations after COVID-19 webpage on the Medicaid website.
For patients who are losing Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage due to the unwinding, CMS has prepared an FAQ on a Special Enrollment Period these patients can use to sign up for an Affordable Care Act plan.
For more information about all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy .