(The Hill) — President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that Americans with private insurance can receive reimbursements for home diagnostic COVID-19 tests as part of a broader plan to combat the ommicron and delta variants.
The White House said the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury will issue guidelines in mid-January to clarify that Americans with private insurance can claim reimbursement for the cost of the home tests during the public health emergency.
A senior government official said the new policy would affect some 150 million Americans who have private insurance. The refund is not expected to be retroactive, but officials are still working out the details of the policy.
In addition, Biden will announce plans to expand access to free home testing in underserved communities in the US. The government plans to distribute 25 million additional free tests to community sites, on top of the 25 million Biden has already committed. The administration is also adding nationwide clinics to the list of locations that will receive the free tests.
Health experts say more testing for COVID-19, in addition to pushing for vaccines, will be key to coping with the virus and its more transmissible variants.
Biden will outline the White House’s multi-step plan in a speech at the National Institutes of Health Thursday afternoon. He will also announce other steps, such as stricter testing rules for international travelers entering the US and an extension of the TSA’s mask mandate for domestic transit.
The first known case of the ommicron variant in the US was discovered in California on Wednesday. Officials are rushing to learn more about the variant, including its transmissibility, severity and the extent to which the COVID-19 vaccines protect against it. US officials expect the vaccines to provide at least some protection and are urging Americans who haven’t to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get booster shots.
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