How will the end of the COVID emergency declaration hit Wisconsin? What to know.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t disappeared, but the impending end of a federal health emergency declaration next month means many of the resources that were available to control it will cease.
The emergency declaration provides funding that subsidizes health care and insurance for millions of Americans. State health officials are asking people to prepare for the changes in advance.
Here’s what you need to know.
Programs for free at-home COVID-19 tests coming to an end
The state health department’s Say Yes! COVID Test program, which provides 10 free at-home COVID-19 antigen tests to Wisconsin households per month, will likely end in mid-May.
Deb Standridge, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said the program will keep running while supplies last. She encouraged people to put in orders while they can.
More:The COVID emergency declaration is ending: What it means for tests, vaccines, treatment
A similar program run by federal health officials, COVIDtests.gov, will likely end around the federal emergency declaration on May 11.
Vaccination access will vary by community and insurance
For many, the end of the emergency declaration will mean that COVID-19 vaccines may no longer be free.
Manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna sold their vaccines to the government for about $20 a dose, said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, professor of health policy management at City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.
More:Milwaukee Health Department COVID-19 vaccination, testing services changing
But now, both companies said they’re considering price hikes to between $110 and $130 per dose, Lee said. Insurance providers would then determine what portion of that they would cover.
Some community public health departments, such as the Milwaukee Health Department, continue to offer free vaccines for the forseeable future.
Vaccines remain the best defense against severe COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week updated its recommendations for vaccination, encouraging people who are over 65 and those who have weakened immune systems to get another booster shot.
Telehealth access to Paxlovid continues through end of the year
The state’s free telehealth program ― through which people who are at high-risk of COVID-19 complications can get prescriptions for the COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid ―will run through the end of December.
More:Wisconsin’s new telehealth program will increase access to free COVID-19 pills
The program can also mail the medication to homes overnight, which is key for people who do not have easy access to a pharmacy, because Paxlovid must be taken within five days of symptom onset.
BadgerCare Plus enrollment cycle to start up again
During the federal emergency declaration, participants did not have to re-enroll in BadgerCare Plus each year.