COVID budget impasse stops uninsured testing and treatment assistance | WGN Radio 720

Washington (AP) —Federal agencies say they will be unable to cover uninsured COVID tests and treatment bills and will stop billing late Tuesday night due to urgent funding requests stagnating in Congress.

“The lack of funding for the needs of COVID-19 has real consequences,” said Martin Kramer, a spokesman for the Department of Health Resources, in a statement. “We have started an orderly shutdown of the program.”

The uninsured program is an early victim of a budget stalemate between Congress and the White House over the Biden administration’s request for an additional $ 22.5 billion for ongoing COVID response. The program, which has been in operation since the Trump administration, will reimburse hospitals, clinics, doctors and other service providers for a total of approximately 28 million uninsured COVID care. Kramer said the program would then need to stop accepting claims for vaccination-related costs after April 5.

Blocking federal funding not only creates access problems for uninsured people, but can also affect other people in society.

“COVID is a highly infectious disease, so we want people who are suspected of having the disease to be tested and treated not only for their health but also for their communities,” said the nonpartisan Kaiser family. Larry Levitt, a health policy expert in Japan, said. Foundation. “If uninsured people hesitate to take care of them for the cost, we will see more cases and greater injustice.”

Levitt also said he was worried that vaccine providers could regain support for uninsured people.

The agency that runs the uninsured program, known as HRSA, is a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services. Authorities said they received about one million claims a day and took care of millions of people during the pandemic. The program pays about $ 500 million a week and is used by over 50,000 service providers.

HHS Secretary Xavier Besera told The Associated Press last week that continued conflict with Congress could slow other initiatives. He picked out “Test to Treat”. This is a newly launched program that allows patients who test positive to receive an antiviral supply quickly. They can take those medicines at home, reducing the chances of hospitalization. “If you don’t have the money to fly it, you’re stuck,” Besera said.

COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped dramatically in most parts of the country, but there are concerns that another surge may be underway. The Omicron subspecies BA.2 has spread in Europe and Asia and is well established in the United States. It is more contagious than the original Omicron strain, but does not appear to cause more serious illness. Nevertheless, hospitals can become full as cases begin to increase again.

The government’s demand for more money was caught in pushes and pulls between the Republicans and Democrats, and the House and Senate.

The biggest obstacle is in the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats need 10 Republican votes to avoid filibuster and approve funds. But Republican senators say savings should be found in the trillions of dollars Congress has already provided since the pandemic began two years ago. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tried to find a compromise by agreeing to cut with Republican leaders, but ran into problems with his fellow Democrats.

Unless money flows, the Biden administration says more Americans will feel fallout.

According to the White House fact sheet, the government will not have enough money to provide boosters and vaccines targeting specific variants to all Americans. The supply of monoclonal antibody therapy will be discontinued by late May. In addition, health authorities will not be able to procure sufficient quantities of the specific treatments needed by patients with immune system problems. And by repeating the cycle that caused frustration from the beginning of the pandemic, maintaining robust capacity for testing becomes another challenge.

COVID budget impasse stops uninsured testing and treatment assistance | WGN Radio 720

Source link COVID budget impasse stops uninsured testing and treatment assistance | WGN Radio 720

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