Fund that reimburses uninsured COVID-19 patient treatment no longer accepting claims

A fund that reimburses doctors and health care facilities for COVID-19 testing and treatment for uninsured people is no longer accepting claims “due to lack of sufficient funds,” The New York Times is reporting.

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The program, funded by federal dollars, paid for COVID-19 testing and treatment for those who are not covered by an insurance plan. An estimated 31 million Americans do not have health care insurance.

Those who are uninsured and have gotten COVID-19 testing and treatment are beginning to be notified that those benefits will be ending, the Times reported.

Reimbursement for COVID-19 testing, which can run from $100-$195 per test, ended last week, and the cost of administering vaccines for uninsured people will run out next week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS points out that while the vaccines themselves are still covered by the government, the cost to administer the vaccines will no longer be paid for.

In addition, money for monoclonal antibody treatments was cut last week by 35%, according to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Monoclonal antibody treatments aim at keeping those with a COVID-19 infection from getting deathly ill with the virus.

The Biden administration has pushed for an additional $22.5 billion in funds to pay for the reimbursement program and other COVID-19 programs.

“The virus is not waiting for Congress to act,” said White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. “With every minute this funding request is stalled, we’re losing our ability to protect people and be prepared.”

As the White House called for more funding, some Senate Republicans say the administration needs to be more specific about where the funding that has already been allocated is going.

“Unless it’s paid for and it’s something that 10 Republicans will vote for, it’s hard to see how it passes the Senate,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-South Dakota said.

The reimbursement program began under the Trump administration and was aimed at helping doctors, hospitals and other health centers replace falling revenue or increased expenses because of the pandemic.

In total, around $178 billion has been spent on the program. All the money in the fund has been allocated, though not all of it has been paid out, The Wall Street Journal reported.

About 50,000 hospitals, doctors and other providers have submitted claims requesting funding from the uninsured program since April 2020, a federal official told the Journal.

The American Hospital Association, along with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, urged the White House and congressional leaders to refund the program, with the NACD saying the lack of funding “could result in the tragedy of increasing disparities in access to critically needed care and patients forgoing care.”