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President Biden Issues Executive Order on Racial Equity Over the President’s Day weekend, President Biden signed a new Executive Order, Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The Order follows Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which, “emphasized the enormous human costs of systemic racism and persistent poverty, and provided a powerful and unprecedented mandate for all federal agencies to launch a whole-of-government approach to equity.” The new Executive Order reaffirms the Administration’s commitment to building and sustaining equity in America.  Click here to read the full text of the executive order.

Black Health Summit Hosted by Department of Health and Human Services

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held its first Black Health Summit, “HHS Black Health Summit: Black Health Matters.” The Summit featured three panels, which discussed addressing mental health in Black communities and systemic barriers to improving health, and Black maternal health. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra welcomed attendees, thanked them for partnering with the Administration to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities, and reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to providing an equitable health care system in America.   Panelists included Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Senior Advisor to the President for Public Engagement at the White House, Assistant Secretary Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Rev. Dr. Que English, HHS Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships, and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-13), a champion for Black maternal health and sponsor of the “Momnibus” legislative package, which includes 12 bills to eliminate maternal mortality and promote birth equity. Each panel underscored the importance of government partnering with the faith community to provide quality, equitable, and affordable health care to all Americans. The event concluded with a grants workshop. Click here to view the event’s recording.

Public Health Emergency Ending May 11

On January 30, the Biden Administration announced that COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) will end on May 11. Over the past few weeks, the Administration held a series of meetings with stakeholders—including elected officials, business, faith, and community leaders—to prepare the nation for the transition. Upon the end of the PHE, people will continue to have access to COVID-19 tests, vaccinations, and some treatments; access to telehealth services under Medicare and Medicare will remain in place; and people will continue to have access to certain medications for opioid use disorder treatment.   Noted changes that will take effect on May 11, 2023, include the end of free over the counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests for most Americans. The federal government will not require private companies to cover COVID-19 testing without cost sharing. While Medicaid beneficiaries will continue have free access to OTCs until September 30, 2024, Medicare beneficiaries will not have access to free OTCs unless order by a medical provider.