The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is finally coming to a close. But there are some parts of the PHE that probably shouldn’t end, at least not quite yet. One of those is free at-home COVID-19 tests for Medicare beneficiaries. On April 4, a group of 18 senators—16 Democratic and two independent—sent a letter asking U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to keep free testing in place after the PHE ends.
Free at-home tests have been instrumental in containing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting older Americans, the letter states. “Ending Medicare coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests could undo much of this progress.” Without such coverage, many seniors won’t “be able to afford to pay out-of-pocket for these critical tests, and they simply won’t test,” the letter adds.
Interestingly, the letter comes on the one-year anniversary of the date that free at-home COVID-19 tests first became available. HHS has yet to respond publicly.