Van Hollen, Cardin and colleagues urge Biden administration to demand Medicare cover costs of rapid home COVID-19 tests

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January 25, 2022

As new guidelines require most insurance companies to cover rapid tests, lawmakers urge inclusion of Medicare

United States Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) joined Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Health Care Subcommittee, and a group of their Senate colleagues to urge the Biden administration to extend their guidelines requiring insurance companies to pay for rapid tests to include Medicare. Currently, most private insurance companies are required to cover the cost of up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 home tests per person per month, but the 61 million Americans enrolled in original Medicare plans or private Medicare Advantage do not. get that refund.

Legislators sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, urging them to expand Medicare coverage for free rapid COVID-19 home tests.

“Older people and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare are most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and people over the age of 65 account for nearly three-quarters of all deaths from the virus. Current policy leaves them on the hook for potentially large out-of-pocket expenses,” lawmakers said. “We share your commitment to ensuring that Medicare enrollees receive the highest quality health care, including access to timely and free COVID-19 testing at home, and we look forward to working with you. to resolve this problem.”

Along with Senators Van Hollen, Cardin and Stabenow, today’s letter was signed by the following Senators: Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) , Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), Maggie Hassan (DN.H), Angus King (Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) , Bob Menendez (DN.J.), Jack Reed (DR.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D -Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.).

The letter is here and lower.

Dear Secretary Becerra and Director Brooks-LaSure:

Thank you for all your work to increase access to free COVID-19 tests nationwide, including your recent guidelines requiring most insurance companies to cover the cost of up to eight at-home tests on sale. free per person per month. We strongly encourage you to expand Medicare coverage, ensuring access for the 61 million Americans enrolled in the program.

Along with vaccination, the widespread availability of free testing will help us defeat this pandemic. That is why we strongly support the work of the Administration over the past year to increase the supply of tests and reduce costs. A year ago, there were no rapid home tests on the market. Today, hundreds of millions are being distributed in the United States, including the administration’s purchase of 500 million tests with funding included in the US bailout, and the planned purchase of 500 million more .

Mandatory coverage of doctor-ordered tests, expansion of free testing sites at pharmacies and community health centers, and free rapid home tests available through COVIDTests.gov or 1-800-232-0233 are big step forward, including for the elderly. Recent CMS guidelines requiring coverage of eight over-the-counter home tests per person per month will dramatically expand access for millions of Americans with commercial health insurance. However, people enrolled in Original Medicare and Private Medicare Advantage plans do not have the same access. The elderly and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare are most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and people over the age of 65 account for nearly three-quarters of all deaths from the virus. Current policy leaves them on the hook for potentially large payouts.

We share your commitment to ensuring that Medicare enrollees receive the highest quality health care, including access to free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests, and look forward to working with you to resolve this problem.

Cordially,



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