Governors ask Biden administration to lift COVID-19 public health emergency

Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) and 24 governors from other states, on December 19, 2022, signed a letter asking President Joe Biden (D) to end the COVID-19 federal public health emergency (PHE) in April 2023. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the COVID-19 federal PHE on January 27, 2020. The PHE must be renewed every 90 days to stay in effect. It was most recently renewed on October 13, 2022, and will expire on January 11, 2023, if it is not renewed again. States, as of January 4, 2023, had not received notice that HHS plans to lift the PHE, indicating that the agency plans to renew the order, according to Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

Governor Cox’s letter asks President Biden to allow the federal PHE to expire in April 2023 after its January 2023 renewal to “provide states with much needed certainty well in advance of its expiration.” Cox argued that the federal PHE was negatively affecting the states by requiring them to cover expanded populations under Medicaid: “The PHE 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.” During the federal PHE states cannot remove people from Medicare benefits who have changed status and are now ineligible.

President Biden had not responded to Gov. Cox’s letter as of January 3, 2023.