News Release

Key Covid Coverage Ends as Federal Funds Run Dry


Last month, uninsured people lost access to free Covid-19 tests and treatments after the end of the Health and Resources Administration’s Covid-19 Uninsured Program. The program, which reimbursed providers for pandemic care for uninsured Americans, was in operation for nearly two years but stopped accepting claims for testing and treatment coverage on March 23. In many states, residents are also no longer able to get free Covid-19 vaccines or boosters. 

Dr. Adam Gaffney has detailed some of the devastating consequences of coverage ending. Gaffney is the coauthor of a February 2022 paper which showed that in 2020, uninsured adults were less likely than insured ones to have been tested for Covid-19 despite having higher rates of positive test results. Although the Families First Coronavirus Act, and then the CARES Act, required insurers to cover tests and provided public payment for testing uninsured people, the uninsured were still often charged for testing. The paper concluded that cost concerns likely stopped some uninsured people from seeking Covid-19 testing. 

ADAM GAFFNEY, MD, MP,, @awgaffney
    Gaffney is a critical care doctor, a healthcare researcher, and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

Gaffney told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “When Covid-19 began, policymakers realized that our fragmented healthcare system was not up to the task of facing a pandemic, so they passed laws providing funds for Covid-19 care for the uninsured. But today, with another pandemic wave looming, those funds are now all used up, and the uninsured are going to pay the consequences. Unless Congress takes action, there is no longer federal coverage for Covid-19 testing, treatment and vaccine administration for the uninsured.

    “The uninsured will now be deterred from obtaining Covid-19 care or treatment––which could contribute to viral spread, or worsen outcomes by delaying care for these vulnerable individuals. After all, we now have treatments that can help prevent severe complications after onset of Covid-19––but only when taken early. Cost barriers could hence prove deadly for the uninsured. And those who do obtain care may pay for it with sky high medical bills.

    “Congress must act by immediately providing funds to keep the Uninsured Program afloat. This measure would be much needed, but still only a bandaid. We need a universal healthcare system that covers care for everyone for this and all other diseases.”