The COVID-19 public health emergency has officially come to an end more than three years after the pandemic was declared and claimed the lives of about 1.125 million Americans, including 29,542 in Tennessee.

Most Tennesseans will notice little change in their daily lives, as the worst of the pandemic and its restrictions have long since been over. Local health agencies also say the federal change in designation will have little impact on their own operations.

“Based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) information, we do not anticipate any changes,” said Tennessee Department of Health spokesman Dean Flener. “The Tennessee Department of Health will continue to ensure Tennesseans have access to COVID prevention resources.”

Matt Peters, spokesman for the Metro Nashville Public Health Department, said most of its pandemic-related activities ended in 2022. But the department will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccinations free of charge while supplies last.

After that, fees for vaccinations will work as they do for others: those who are covered by TennCare will get them for free, and others without health insurance would be provided shots on a sliding scale.

The department will also continue to distribute at-home tests for free while supplies last, Peters said. After that, the department will decide whether to order more, he said.

No more free tests

As suggested above, the end of the federal emergency means an end to the requirement that private insurers and Medicare provide eight free at-home COVID-19 tests per month. Similarly, vaccines will continue to be free as long as federal supplies last. They will also be free through in-network insurance providers and Affordable Care Act plans.

Also ending is the requirement that insurance plans cover COVID tests ordered by medical clinicians, with no out-of-pocket charges. KFF, a nonprofit organization focused on health policy, recently found that the median price of such tests in an outpatient clinical setting was $45 in 2021. Though it noted that prices varied quite a bit and that many insurers may cover the full price.

The average price for at-home tests is about $11, KFF also found.

Other changes

KFF has compiled a list of changes that will be rolled out in the coming months as a result of the end of the emergency.

This includes the lifting of Title 42 border restrictions, allowing the U.S. to turn away asylum seekers at the border on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Hospital operators will also no longer receive 20% Medicare payment increases related to COVID-19 treatments that they have been receiving for years.

The end of the emergency also means that international travelers entering the United States no longer have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to enter the country. The Biden administration has also ended the COVID vaccination requirement for federal workers and contractors.

Frank Gluck is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at fgluck@tennessean.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FrankGluck.

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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: health/2023/05/16/the-covid-19-health-emergency-is-officially-over-what-does-that-mean-tennessee-testing-medicare/70213591007/” data-ylk=”slk:The COVID-19 health emergency is officially over. What does that mean?;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>The COVID-19 health emergency is officially over. What does that mean?

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