WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The FDA said a test for the coronavirus will be widely available by the end of this week.
But questions remain about its costs and who pays for it.
“This is a time when we have to make sure that cost is not a deterrence for protecting all of us,” said Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, said Americans have enough to worry about with the coronavirus and shouldn’t have to fear how to pay for testing.
“No one who is uninsured or underinsured should avoid getting tested or treated because of the cost,” he said.
The concern is many with inadequate insurance, or none at all, will avoid getting tested to avoid an expensive medical bill.
Krishnamoorthi said that puts everyone at risk.
“It’s not only important for the individual who’s sick, we want them to be well, but it’s important for the rest of us because coronavirus is so contagious,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence tried to downplay fears about payment, saying the Department of Health and Human Services designated the coronavirus test as an “essential health benefit.”
“That means by definition, it’s covered in the private health insurance of every American as well as covered by Medicare and Medicaid,” he said.
Some Republicans, including Illinois Sen. Bill Cassidy, said payment relief must include those at high risk.
“We need to focus on those who are most vulnerable, those who are 65 and above,” Cassidy said.
But Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky wants to know what the Trump administration’s plans are to make sure everyone can get tested.
“I’m just very concerned that we send out the message: get yourself tested, and then we need to be able to provide the care that people need,” Schakowsky said.
Some of the money from an emergency spending bill of more than $8 billion will go to reimburse states for disease containment costs, including testing.