The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) is urging Congress to prioritize additional appropriations through the COVID-19 Uninsured Relief Fund to fund COVID-19 testing for those who are uninsured.
In a March 21 letter to House and Senate leaders, Thomas B. Sparkman, ACLA senior vice president of government affairs & policy, stressed that testing “remains an important tool in clinical and public health efforts. … The federal government must continue to protect COVID-19 testing and ensure that all Americans, regardless of insurance status, will have access to COVID-19 testing without cost sharing.”
Essential to this is the COVID-19 Uninsured Relief Fund, which was established by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and was most recently replenished through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which has notified test providers that the fund has run out of money and will no longer accept claims for uninsured individuals after March 22.
Sparkman noted that ACLA members have performed more than 190 million PCR tests for COVID-19 since March 2020, and in 2021, they performed more than 8 million tests for uninsured individuals, which were covered by the COVID-19 Uninsured Relief Fund.
“During the peak of the Omicron variant wave from January to February 2022 alone, ACLA members were performing 500,000 tests per month for uninsured individuals,” Sparkman wrote. “We join others in urging Congress and the Administration to work together to replenish the COVID-19 Uninsured Relief Fund immediately and renew this critical source of access to COVID-19 testing for the uninsured.”