Gem State Roundup

Citing Medicaid costs, Little joins GOP governors’ call for an end to Public Health Emergency

By: - December 19, 2022 4:32 pm
Photo: U.S. Army Capt. Alexis Acuna, a critical care nurse, provides care to a COVID-19 patient during the COVID response operations at Kootenai Health regional medical center in  Coeur d'Alene on Sept. 26, 2021.

U.S. Army Capt. Alexis Acuna, a critical care nurse, provided care to a COVID-19 patient during the COVID response operations at Kootenai Health regional medical center in  Coeur d’Alene on Sept. 26, 2021. With a surge of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filling its hospitals, Idaho turned to federal agencies for help. The Department of Defense sent reinforcements. But last fall, Idaho also called in for staffing help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, using contractor ACI Federal to provide nurses, respiratory therapists and other clinicians. (Photo by Sgt. Kaden D. Pitt, courtesy of U.S. Army)

Declaring that “we have returned to life as normal,” Idaho’s Brad Little and Iowa’s Kim Reynolds joined 23 other Republican governors Monday in calling on President Joe Biden to end the federally declared Public Health Emergency.

Gov. Brad Little
Gov. Brad Little serves as Idaho’s 33rd governor. (Courtesy of Brad Little)

The Public Health Emergency, or PHE, is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and is scheduled to expire on Jan. 11, 2023, although Biden is expected to extend it into April 2023.

The Republican governors are urging the president to let the declaration expire in April. In the letter, they state their concern is the effect the declaration has had on increasing the number of people eligible for Medicaid – an expansion they say is “costing states hundreds of millions of dollars” as they help pay for beneficiaries’ medical care.

“It is time we move on from the pandemic,” the governors’ letter states. “The PHE is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid, regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program. Since the beginning of the pandemic, states have added 20 million individuals to the Medicaid rolls, an increase of 30%, and those numbers continue to climb as the PHE continues to be extended every 90 days.”

“We have come so far since the beginning of the pandemic — we now have the tools and information necessary to help protect Iowans from COVID-19,” Reynolds said in a written statement Monday. “We have returned to life as normal, and it is time the federal government’s policies reflected that.”

Joint Letter to President Biden on the Public Health Emergency

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Iowa Capital Dispatch Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.