As the federal government plans to wind down some health benefits related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Baltimore says it will pick up the slack through 2024.
The Biden administration announced earlier this year that it will end the national emergency related to coronavirus on May 11. That means that the federal government will stop picking up the tab for things like free testing for COVID-19 and will phase out benefits like automatic enrollment in Medicaid.
Baltimore City officials say they expect to use $80 million in federal grant money from the American Rescue Plan Act to continue many of those services, according to a memo released by the city’s health department on Monday.
The city says it will continue to provide free COVID tests at city libraries, administer free vaccines, set up clinics across the city for testing and send medical professionals to the houses of people with limited mobility to give out vaccines.
“The end of the COVID-19 national public health emergency is a milestone we should all be proud of,” said Baltimore City Health Department Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa. “However, there are still too many vulnerable people among us to let our guard down. That is why the Baltimore City Health Department has prepared for the next phase of the pandemic and will continue to provide free vaccinations and tests across the city so we can protect ourselves and loved ones as long as remains necessary.”