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4 Things to Know About the End of the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency

Written by Shadi Salehyar

The Covid-19 national public health emergency (PHE) is set to end on May 11, 2023. The PHE has been effective for over 3 years and many people may not know what the end of it entails. FTOC wants to ensure that everyone is informed on what to expect and how this upcoming change will affect healthcare and current policies. In order to bring clarity to the situation and help you prepare, we’ve put together this list of 4 things you can expect now that the public health emergency is ending.

Medi-Cal’s Continuous Coverage Requirement Will End

Due to the unpredictable ongoing crisis that the pandemic had caused, Medi-Cal enacted the “Continuous Coverage Requirement” which required states to continue to cover every person who had been eligible for Medi-Cal regardless of any changed circumstances. This was enacted in order to assure that vulnerable communities would have healthcare coverage throughout the pandemic. The Continuous Coverage Requirement is set to end on March 31, 2023. This means that the annual Medi-Cal runnual process will resume on April 1, 2023. While many people will remain eligible for Medi-Cal, California estimates that between two to three million people will lose their coverage within the next year. If you’re under Medi-Cal, make sure to renew your coverage to keep all of your benefits!

Additionally, programs such as the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) program will be required to re-enroll in person in order to continue receiving benefits.  More information on this matter can be found on the WIC website.

Continued Access to Tests, Vaccines and Treatment with No Cost Sharing

California state laws add six months to the federal PHE requirements, so health plans will continue covering Covid-19 tests, vaccines and treatment for any licensed provider with no cost sharing fee until November 11, 2023. After that date, continued access to tests, vaccines and treatment will be available through the enrollee’s health plan’s networks. Cost sharing will only be charged if these services are provided out of network.

Vaccination and Covid-19 Testing Sites Will Be Phased Out

All state-run Covid-19 testing sites and vaccination resources are being phased out, this includes Test-to-Treat sites that would offer medication and treatment for patients who tested positive. Individuals who need these resources can gain access to them through their local health departments and other community providers. Vaccines will be available through primary care providers and pharmacies and Covid-19 testing will still be provided at schools.

    Telehealth Options Will Still Be Available

    Telehealth came about during a time when people felt unsafe leaving their houses due to the pandemic. Even though many people feel a bit safer leaving their houses today, telehealth still has its benefits. It saves time and gas money for those who have to commute long distances for their medical visits. Many people are probably wondering whether or not telehealth will survive the end of the public health emergency. Well according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, telehealth will remain an option for patients at least temporarily. Medicare patients can continue to receive behavioral health services at home through telehealth. This will be a permanent change. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) can serve as distant site providers for behavioral telehealth services. As for non-behavioral health visits, patients can receive telehealth services through December 31, 2024.

      We hope this information will help you prepare for some of the upcoming changes. If you need help renewing your Medi-Cal coverage, FTOC’s Case Managers are here to help! You can contact us by calling 1(800) 597-7977 Ext. 414, filling out the form on our Medi-Cal Enrollment and Renewal page or by emailing socialservices@ftoc.us and we’ll connect you with someone who can help you. More information about our Covid-19 related services can be found here.