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‘Do better’: outrage as White House officials reject sending free home tests for Covid-19

White House officials have championed a widely criticized plan to allow Americans with private medical insurance to file reimbursement claims for Covid-19 test kits at home, rather than making them freely available to all Americans at no upfront cost.

On December 6, press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to mock the idea of ​​the government mailing them to households, and coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zeints said on December 7 that the reimbursement plan for Joe Biden’s administration is “the most efficient and effective approach” to testing in the United States.

The plan, which would go into effect in mid-January, is part of a series of actions to tackle the public health crisis as it enters a third year.

The new policy will not cover the upfront costs of store-bought in-home quick kits, which can range from $ 10 to $ 25 at drug stores in the United States. Instead, the roughly 150 million Americans with private insurance plans must file claims with their insurers. Private insurers already cover in-office tests.

Americans receiving public insurance through Medicare and Medicaid programs will not be eligible for reimbursements. The policy also does not cover out-of-pocket expenses for millions of uninsured Americans.

The availability and access to PCR tests and rapid antigen tests at public sites and clinics vary widely in the United States, and the in-demand home kits face supply shortages and are offered at low prices. relatively high prices compared to other countries where testing is cheap or free and widely available. available.

Experts have argued that widely available rapid tests are key – along with face covers and vaccines – to controlling infections.

A November report from the Kaiser Family Foundation points to the relatively high cost and lack of insurance coverage for home tests as barriers to expanding such tests in the United States, as rapid tests have become a part. integral to the reopening of schools and the return to work.

The United States is increasing the supply of 50 million home tests that will be “distributed through key community sites, such as health centers and rural clinics,” according to the White House. The US government supports approximately 20,000 locations where Americans can get tested for free.

How and when Americans can access these sites, and how state and local governments operate public testing centers, vary from state to state and city to city.

During a press briefing on Monday, NPR reporter Mara Liasson stressed the barriers millions of Americans face in accessing such tests easily, while Ms Psaki dismissed the idea that states United could “send one to every American” despite such approaches being integral to pandemic responses in other countries.

She asked, “There are still a lot of countries like Germany, the UK and South Korea that basically have massive testing for free or for a small fee. Why can’t this be done in the United States? “

Ms Psaki pointed to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of eight tests, a “gold standard” that she said may not have necessarily been met by other countries.

“Our goal is to increase accessibility and reduce costs,” she said. “If you look at what we’ve done over time, we’ve quadrupled the size of our test plan, we’ve cut costs dramatically over the past few months, and that effort to ensure that insurers are able to getting your tests funded means 150 million Americans will get free tests.

The reporter continued, “It’s a bit complicated though. Why not just make them free… and have them available everywhere?

“Should we just send one to every American?” She replied. “So what if every American has a test? How much does it cost and what happens next?

“All I know is that other countries seem to be making them available in larger quantities, for less money,” Ms. Liasson replied.

“I think we share the same goal, which is to make them cheaper and more accessible, right? Ms Psaki said, again suggesting that tests in other countries are inferior to tests in the United States which have passed the FDA approval process.

When asked on Tuesday why the United States is not sending rapid tests to all Americans, Mr Zeints said: “We believe the most effective and efficient approach is more nuanced than that. “

“If you have private insurance, we make sure your insurer will reimburse you,” he said. “Everyone in America has access to free tests effectively and efficiently. “

Yale University epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves said Ms Psaki’s response “was terrible, flippant, false.”

“Rapid tests are difficult to obtain, expensive [and] could be a key intervention in the fight [Covid-19]He said on Twitter. “Other countries have found better ways to put these tools in the hands of their citizens. Do better.”

The Independent Gt

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