The White House has warned that it will begin to slowly phase out a COVID-19 program that reimbursed medical facilities and doctors for whopping costs associated with testing, treating and vaccinating uninsured Americans. The harsh move comes as Democrats and Republicans struggle to come to an agreement on a $22.5 billion request from the Biden Administration seeking more funding for the COVID-19 relief program. Currently, COVID-19 cases are slowly declining across the country, but as emerging variants like the Stealth Omicron begin to pose uncertainty, the lack of federal government funding for COVID-19 support could cause huge trouble for the uninsured and those fighting to protect themselves. Here’s everything we know so far about the changes being implemented.
What is The Uninsured Program?
The government-backed program was created during the Trump administration to help hospitals, clinics, and service providers cover COVID-19 care for uninsured people. Currently, there are about 28 million people who can’t afford adequate health care coverage across the United States, according to Census.gov. Now, with the program set to end soon, millions of Americans might have to cover the absorbent costs of their own COVID-19 treatment and testing. The pullback comes as states begin to drop COVID-19 restrictions and as hospitalizations appear to be on the decline, but officials worry if there is another spike in cases, that uninsured individuals will be left to fend for themselves.
Why is it ending?
Republicans and Democrats aren’t seeing eye to eye when it comes to funding for The Uninsured Program. The biggest challenge is the voting process in the senate. In order for the Biden Administration to receive additional funding Democrats would need 10 Republican votes. Unfortunately, a large majority of Republican senators believe that the extra savings should be allocated from Congress since the governing body has already been providing financial aid to COVID-19 relief over the last two years. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to find a middle ground “by agreeing to cuts with GOP leaders,” ABC News noted. However, Democrats weren’t too happy with the idea. If the money isn’t approved, uninsured Americans will feel the brunt of the COVID-19 relief program’s erasure.
When will The Uninsured Program end?
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has been the agency fueling the vital initiative. Officials from the department said this week that the program will stop accepting claims for COVID-19 vaccination costs after April 5, but they are already beginning to slowly implement changes this month. So far the agency has been able to cover the cost of COVID-related treatment and testing for millions of struggling families during the pandemic, paying out a whopping 500 million a week in claims. Now that government funding has been cut off, the agency warned that they would not have enough resources to produce enough boosters shots for Americans. Additionally, HRSA claimed that they wouldn’t be able to purchase more COVID-19 antiviral pills along with monoclonal antibody treatments. They anticipate running out of supplies by late May, NBC News reported.