WASHINGTON, D.C. [1/22/20]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) says that an executive order signed by President Joe Biden during his first week in office heeds her call to protect Americans from coronavirus (COVID-19) testing charges. The order directs agencies to provide free testing to people who lack health insurance. It also clarifies insurers’ obligation to cover testing.
Sen. Smith has been working to make COVID-19 testing free for all Americans since the start of the pandemic. And on January 5, Sen. Smith urged President Biden and Vice President Harris to take executive action to protect patients from out-of-pocket charges for COVID-19 tests, regardless of their insurance status, and regardless of the reason they are seeking a test.
“Testing is essential for getting a handle on the pandemic and reopening our hard-hit economy. It’s also one of the most effective, least costly tools to fight COVID-19. That is why it’s so important to eliminate cost barriers for COVID-19 testing so that all Americans can have access to regular, reliable, free testing,” said Sen. Smith. “I’m glad to see the President’s executive order to provide free testing to people who lack health insurance, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to accomplish our shared goal of protecting all Americans from out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 tests.”
Last year, Sen. Smith authored the Free COVID-19 Testing Act to provide testing with no out-of-pocket charges. It became law as part of a larger COVID-19 relief package passed in March 2020. However, there’s still a long road ahead to make sure no American is charged for a COVID-19 test. Since then, Sen. Smith has introduced the Stop COVID-19 Test Surprise Medical Bills Act and the Suppress COVID-19 Act.
You can read the Executive Order on Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic here.