WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined her colleagues in a letter urging Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to clarify the agency’s guidance to ensure that Iowans who need a COVID-19 test can receive one without any out-of-pocket costs, regardless of whether the individual is symptomatic.
In a letter to Secretary Azar, Ernst and her colleagues write, “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…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…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.”
Both the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the bipartisan CARES Act, which Ernst supported, ensured access to free COVID-19 testing without out-of-pocket costs.
In August, following reports that insurance companies are using loopholes to deny or restrict coverage for COVID-19 testing, Ernst supported an effort to ensure Iowans have access to affordable COVID-19 tests, insurance covers antibody tests, and testing information is efficiently shared among health care providers and public health officials.