HHS commits $4.8B for testing uninsured people for COVID-19

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday that it is designating $4.8 billion to provide relief funding for COVID-19 testing for uninsured people in the U.S.

The administration intends the funding from the American Rescue Plan to ensure the approximately 29 million uninsured U.S. residents have access to COVID-19 testing in order to track where the virus is prevalent for appropriate responses. 

“As we vaccinate the country, let’s continue taking the preventive measures necessary to keep the virus under control and prevent it from spreading,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement provided to The Hill. “Testing remains critical and now it’s available at no cost to those who need it.” 

Providers will be able to bill the program for any COVID-19 tests given to individuals without insurance.

The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was enacted earlier this year, but the department has made announcements on a rolling basis as the law’s funding is implemented. 

Last year’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act previously funded the uninsured testing program, with each designating $1 billion for provider reimbursements, generally at Medicare rates. Some money from the Provider Relief Fund program also went to the testing initiative. 

The program has provided almost $4 billion in COVID-19 testing-specific reimbursements as of last week.

Acting Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Diana Espinosa said the U.S.’s return to normal depends on testing and vaccinating everyone despite their insurance status.

“Focusing on the underserved and eliminating health access barriers for vulnerable communities is a core part of our mission,” Espinosa said.

Throughout the pandemic, the U.S. has reported administering more 437 million COVID-19 tests, with more than 35 million positive results, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tags American Rescue Plan Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 testing Department of Health and Human Services HHS Insurance Pandemic provider relief uninsured Xavier Becerra

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