The federal government’s announcement that the COVID-19 public health emergency (“PHE”) declaration would end on May 11, 2023 marked the end of various federal mandates and benefits. The Centers for Disease Control’s authorizations to collect certain types of public health data expired, as did the requirement that insurance providers waive costs or provide free COVID-19 tests. However, the Biden Administration announced that COVID-19 hospital admissions, deaths, emergency department visits, test positivity and results of wastewater surveillance will continue to be reported, although the sources of some of this information will change.
Perhaps most importantly, numerous COVID-19 vaccination requirements are being rescinded. COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees, contractors, and international travelers, ended on May 11 simultaneously with the end of the PHE. At the same time, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security began the process to end vaccination requirements for Head Start educators, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)-certified healthcare facilities, and certain non-citizens at the land border. On June 5, 2023, CMS published a final rule, effective August 4, 2023, providing guidance about unwinding the provisions of the interim final rule that required COVID-19 vaccinations for staff of Medicare and Medicaid certified providers and suppliers. At the same time, it announced that it will no longer enforce the vaccination requirement.
Several other jurisdictions have followed suit. New York State announced on May 24 that it had begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for workers at regulated health care facilities, based upon “the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations . . .” and would not commence any new enforcement actions. New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 332 on June 12, 2023 rescinding the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employees in healthcare settings. California likewise lifted healthcare worker vaccination requirements by Order effective April 3, 2023. Of course, individual health care entities and other employers are free to implement their own internal policies regarding COVID-19 vaccination, at least in states that have not passed legislation prohibiting a particular practice, as some states have done or are attempting to do. See https://nashp.org/state-efforts-to-ban-or-enforce-covid-19-vaccine-mandates-and-passports/. For additional information about the issues discussed above, or if you have any questions concerns, contact Arthur Fried, or the EBG attorney who assists you.