In a Letter to Department of Health and Human Services, Senators Urge Additional Action to Streamline Access to At-Home Testing
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) led colleagues in urging the Biden Administration to ensure easy access to rapid COVID-19 tests for Americans across the country.
In a letter Friday, the Senators pressed the Biden Administration to take needed steps to streamline access to at-home testing. The letter comes after the Biden administration announced additional actions to combat COVID-19, including through rapid COVID-19 tests.
“As you work to draft guidance to allow Americans with private health insurance to be reimbursed for rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests, we urge you to take steps to make this process as seamless as possible for individual patients,” the Senators wrote. “Rapid tests are a critical tool in slowing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. As the nation continues to battle the spread of the Delta variant and confronts the spread of the more infectious Omicron variant, easy access to free rapid COVID-19 tests will be even more important.”
The letter was also signed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). You can read the letter here and below.
The Honorable Xavier Becerra
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Becerra:
Thank you for your continued leadership to combat the spread of the Omicron variant and a new winter strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate your continued work to improve the federal response to COVID-19 and your plan’s prioritization of expanded access to free at-home COVID-19 testing. As you work to draft guidance to allow Americans with private health insurance to be reimbursed for rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests, we urge you to take steps to make this process as seamless as possible for individual patients.
Rapid tests are a critical tool in slowing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. These tests can help people learn if they have COVID-19, and are critical to informing when they should stay home to protect themselves and others. Furthermore, rapid tests can identify 98 percent of cases in which a person is still infectious with COVID-19. As the nation continues to battle the spread of the Delta variant and confronts the spread of the more infectious Omicron variant, easy access to free rapid COVID-19 tests will be even more important.
We appreciate that the Administration recognizes the importance of making tests more accessible, including the recent announcement that the federal government will purchase 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests and distribute them for free to Americans who order them online. We look forward to receiving additional information about this initiative in a forthcoming briefing with the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
In addition, we appreciate that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury will issue sub-regulatory guidance to allow individuals who purchase over-the-counter (OTC) rapid COVID-19 tests to seek reimbursement from their private health insurance plans. Finally, we applaud the Administration’s announcement that the federal government will provide 50 million rapid COVID-19 tests to people without health insurance through community health centers, rural health clinics, and other community sites. These points of access will be critical for individuals who do not have access to reliable, high-speed internet.
As you move to draft new regulations and implement policies to expand access to rapid COVID-19 tests, we seek answers to the following questions. We ask for your responses by January 13, 2022.
Thank you again for your work to expand access to rapid COVID-19 tests and to lead us out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to reviewing your responses to our questions.