A deal for $10 billion in additional funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic was approved by Congress on April 4, 2022. The new budget, reduced from the Biden Administration’s requested $22.5 billion, signals a shift in the government’s approach to combating COVID-19: from preemptively securing funds and supplies to reactively addressing the need for resources like testing kits, treatments, and vaccine doses. The change in approach creates new complexities for individuals, employers, and health payers as resources diminish without the runway of existing congressional funding.
The first group affected by budget reductions are the uninsured. On March 16, 2022, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HSRA) announced the discontinuation of its Uninsured Program which reimbursed providers for tests, treatments, and vaccines for the uninsured. The program’s dissolution, fully effective April 5, 2022, means services remain though claim reimbursements are subject to “the availability of funds.”
Privately insured individuals should maintain access to no-cost COVID-19 services while supplies last and the federal Public Health Emergency* (PHE) remains in effect. However, when the PHE ends and supplies diminish, the cost of COVID-19 services for insured Americans is expected to rise. The KFF notes in an extensive brief: