WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) this week joined 17 Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the Administration to continue providing Medicare coverage for rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests after the public health emergency expires on May 11.
The Senators note that seniors and people with disabilities remain vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and could find themselves without critical public health tools. As the nation rebuilds its economy while recovering from the pandemic, continued access to and affordability of at-home testing is critical to ensuring older adults and people with disabilities can be included in rebuilding efforts as active members of the workforce.
“Easy access to testing with quick results has prevented the spread of COVID-19, reduced severe infection, and enabled many Americans to resume normal life…Ending Medicare coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests could undo much of this progress and make it harder for Medicare beneficiaries to obtain accurate and timely information about their health. For example, without coverage under Medicare, many older Americans will not be able to afford to pay out-of-pocket for these critical tests and simply won’t test,” the Senators wrote to Secretary Becerra.
In January 2022, Sen. Menendez sent a letter to Sec. Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to advocate for robust Medicare coverage of at-home COVID-19 tests. Seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare are at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and people over 65 account for the majority of deaths from the virus. Without Medicare coverage, they could be on the hook for potentially significant out of-pocket costs.
Joining Sen. Menendez in signing the letter were Sens. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Angus King (I-Maine), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).