COVID-19 coverage changes coming in May

The emergency phase of the nation’s response to COVID-19 is set to end on Thursday, May 11. The Dutchess County Office for the Aging and Department of Behavioral and Community Health (DBCH) have been preparing to meet the needs of Dutchess County older adults beyond that date, so we all can anticipate the expected changes.

OFA will continue its offer of free vaccinations and boosters for COVID-19 and influenza to homebound older Dutchess County residents for the next several months. If you or someone for whom you care has been unable to travel to a traditional provider, OFA can arrange for trained providers to come to the residence of the homebound individual. Contact OFA at 845-486-2555 or ofa@dutchessny.gov to find out more.

DBCH commissioner Livia Santiago-Rosado, MD, FACEP, offers the following guidance to all Dutchess County residents, regardless of age or vaccination status:

“Although the COVID-19 state of emergency is coming to an end in May, the CDC recommends that anyone who has not yet had their updated shot get one. This bivalent vaccine induces antibodies against both the original virus and the Omicron variants, especially important among people who may be older or immunocompromised. We urge those more vulnerable populations to consider their risk, as they have been approved to receive another dose of the updated shot, even if they have already had one in those last few months.”

What else changes after May 11? A full accounting of the changes would take up a good-sized book, so we’ll cover the changes that will affect the most of us.

For one, COVID-19 vaccines and antivirals such as Paxlovid will remain free to everyone regardless of insurance status until the current federal stockpile runs out. Additionally, expanded telehealth covered by Medicare will also remain in place through December 2024 under federal spending legislation passed in December. After 2024, congressional action to extend telehealth coverage would be needed.

In New York state, flexibilities that have applied to physicians’ assistants during the COVID emergency are scheduled to expire on May 11, barring any changes made as part of state budget talks that were ongoing as of this writing. The 2022-23 state budget permanently granted full practice authority to nurse practitioners. NPs in New York can diagnose, evaluate, test, manage treatments and prescribe medicines without a previously required contract with a physician.

Meanwhile, New York’s continuous Medicaid enrollment policy enacted during the pandemic expired on March 31. Since then, the state has been notifying Medicaid consumers about potential changes to coverage. For older adults covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid who are concerned about what the future holds, OFA is hosting a Medicare Savings Plan (MSP) Enrollment Forum on Friday, May 5, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at OFA offices at 114 Delafield St. in Poughkeepsie.

Space is limited; contact OFA during business hours at 845-486-2555 to save a spot to talk with a trained, non-sales-oriented OFA counselor.

 

Golden Living is prepared by the Dutchess County Office for the Aging, Todd N. Tancredi, director. Email him at ofa@dutchessny.gov.

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