Dear Secretary Becerra:
We are encouraged by your recent announcement to increase access to at-home COVID-19 tests
at no cost for millions of Americans and appreciate your department's existing efforts that cover
diagnostic testing for original Medicare beneficiaries. These are critical steps to reduce the
spread of COVID-19 and save millions of lives. We urge the Department of Health and Human
Services to make these efforts more holistic by fully covering no-cost, at-home tests for the 61.5
million Americans enrolled in Medicare.
As of January 15, 2022, insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests that have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. Individuals will be able to receive eight over-the-counter at-home tests per
month at no cost from their local pharmacy or purchase them online and get reimbursed through
Currently Medicare does not pay for at-home COVID-19 tests. Medicare beneficiaries are currently able to obtain a diagnostic test, whether a PCR or antigen test, but they first need an
order from a health care professional and the test must be performed by a laboratory -- creating
additional access barriers for older people and people with disabilities who have traditional
Medicare, especially those who are homebound or live in rural and suburban communities. Outside of an authorization, they can only access one lab-performed test per year.
In order to protect people with Medicare from the ongoing COVID-19 variants, we urge the
Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have sustained
access to at-home COVID-19 testing at no cost through the Medicare program. We encourage
the Department to consider options such as additional clinics in rural, suburban, and other
underserved areas with less accessible existing testing options, a telephone hotline to order free at-home tests to complement the website the administration created, and support for locally led
efforts to provide at-home testing to Medicare beneficiaries at no cost.
Thank you again for your efforts, and we look forward to working together to ensure older
people have the tools at their disposal to mitigate the spread and infection of COVID-19.