Lankford and Colleagues Send Letter to HHS Requesting Clarification on Free COVID-19 Testing

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Rick Scott (R-FL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ben Sasse (R-NE), David Perdue (R-GA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting that the agency clarify its guidance to ensure that individuals who need a COVID-19 test can receive one without any out-of-pocket costs, regardless of whether the individual is symptomatic.

Read the Senators’ letter HERE or below.

Dear Secretary Azar:

Thank you for your ongoing leadership as our nation continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  Throughout this public health emergency, the Trump Administration has taken critical steps to increase COVID-19 testing capacity by harnessing the strength and innovation of the private sector.  To date, our nation has conducted an unprecedented level of over 100 million RT-PCR tests to help contain the virus, reopen the economy, and help American families get back to work and school.

We applaud the Trump Administration’s ongoing efforts to ensure that any American who needs a test can quickly get one—at no cost. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, which were signed into law by President Trump earlier this year, made sure that individuals can receive COVID-19 tests without out-of-pocket costs. President Trump’s recent Executive Order on An America-First Healthcare Plan once again signaled the Administration’s commitment to ensuring that Americans are held harmless from surprise medical bills, including for testing.

Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that changes made in a recent tri-agency guidance published on June 23, 2020, have created some confusion regarding coverage requirements for COVID-19 testing. In recent weeks, we have been made aware of increasing coverage denials from health plans for COVID-19 testing, particularly for asymptomatic individuals.

For Americans who wish to safely return to school and work, access to testing is critical, and they should not have to question whether or not COVID-19 diagnostic or antibody testing is covered by their insurance. No one should have to pay for a test. If someone wants a test, they should be able to get a test, and that test should be covered by insurance without any out-of-pocket costs.

We respectfully ask you to update the tri-agency guidance to clarify that individuals who need a test can receive one without cost-sharing, medical management, or prior authorization, and regardless of whether the individual is symptomatic.

Thank you again for your leadership during these unprecedented times. We look forward to continuing to work with the Trump Administration to overcome this pandemic and safely reopen our economy.