Consumer / Employer, Payers

Survey: Americans Are Split on the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency

About 51% of U.S. adults are in favor of the Covid-19 public health emergency still in effect, while 39% said it is no longer needed, a recent Morning Consult survey found. Americans’ opinions varied based on political party, generation, race/ethnicity and location.

About 51% of U.S. adults say the Covid-19 public health emergency should still be in effect, while 39% said it is no longer needed, a recent survey found.

The report came from Morning Consult, which conducted the poll between December 14 and December 19. It received responses from 2,210 American adults.

Currently, the public health emergency is set to end January 11. The Biden Administration has said that it will provide 60 days notice on when the emergency will expire, and because it did not do so in November, the public health emergency is expected to be extended to April.

Americans’ opinions varied based on political party, generation, race/ethnicity and location. For example, 72% of Democrats said they think the public health emergency should still be in effect, compared to 34% of Republicans. About 56% of “Baby Boomers” said it should still be in effect, compared to 45% of “Gen Zers.” Additionally, 66% of Black Americans believe the public health emergency should be in place, while 49% of White Americans said this. More adults in urban communities (58%) think it should be in effect, than rural adults (43%).

Almost half of the respondents said the public health emergency should be extended past January, but two in five said it shouldn’t. 

Under the public health emergency, Americans receive coverage for Covid-19 services, such as tests, treatments and vaccines. However, the survey found that once the period ends, 46% of U.S. adults are not interested in paying for Covid-19 products out of pocket. Meanwhile, 45% said they are interested and 9% said they don’t know.

On December 19,  25 governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to end the public health emergency in April. In 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed due to the pandemic. The Act bans states from disenrolling people from Medicaid during the public health emergency and gives them a temporary increase in the federal Medicaid match rates. The governors contend that this is hurting states and costing them substantial money.

“The [public health emergency] is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid (both traditional and expanded populations), regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program,” the governors said. “While the enhanced federal match provides some assistance to blunt the increasing costs due to higher enrollment numbers in our Medicaid programs, states are required to increase our non-federal match to adequately cover all enrollees and cannot disenroll members from the program unless they do so voluntarily.”

About 18 million people could lose Medicaid coverage once the public health emergency expires, according to a recent Urban Institute report. This includes 3.8 million people who would become completely uninsured.

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