White House: Providers won't get reimbursed for uninsured COVID-19 care unless Congress acts

Providers will not be able to get reimbursed for testing, treating and vaccinating the uninsured for COVID-19 starting later this month unless Congress acts, the White House warned on Tuesday. 

The White House outlined Tuesday what services will be cut if lawmakers don’t pass another round of COVID-19 relief funds. Congress passed an omnibus bill that at first included more than $15 billion in extra funds, but the monies were stripped after pushback from Republicans who want a full accounting of money already allocated. 

“With cases rising abroad, scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months there could be increasing cases of COVID-19 here in the U.S. as well,” according to the fact sheet released by the White House. “As the administration has warned, failure to fund these efforts now will have severe consequences as we will not be equipped to deal with a future surge.”

The White House warned that starting March 22, the Uninsured Program will no longer accept new claims for testing or treatment for uninsured patients from providers. 

On April 5, the program will stop accepting any claims for vaccinations as monies are running out. 

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The program has been in place since the start of the pandemic roughly two years ago. The $175 billion Provider Relief Fund paid out the uninsured claims, and the American Rescue Plan allocated $4.8 billion to reimburse providers for testing uninsured patients. 

More than 50,000 providers have received reimbursements under the program, according to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Other pandemic efforts impacted by the lack of support include:

  • No more purchasing of monoclonal antibody treatments, scaling back allocations to states and territories.

The administration doesn’t have any money for a planned order of the antibody treatments for March 25. It warns that allocations could be cut by more than 30% without additional money.

  • Inability to pre-purchase new antivirals that are in the development pipeline.

“As even more effective pills potentially become available, the federal government is no longer able to make advance purchase commitments,” the White House said.

This also includes scaling back planned purchases of preventive treatments for immunocompromised Americans. The federal government had been planning to purchase the treatments by the end of March and begin delivery in September when the treatments are made.

  • Lack of ability to secure additional booster doses or variant-specific vaccine doses if they are needed. The White House warned the government doesn’t have enough adequate resources to purchase boosters for every American.

In addition to scaling back new treatment and vaccine purchases, administration officials have warned that the lack of funds will hasten a transition to private insurance coverage of the treatments. 

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said Monday that the funding could create a more orderly transition toward commercial reimbursement.