Uninsured People Are Left Behind as Government COVID-19 Funding Dries Up

After two years’ free COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 test, and other resources for health care during the pandemics, the government has run out of funding. Last month, the Biden administration wrote a letter to Congress To keep funding programs running in the U.S., we asked lawmakers to contribute $22.5 billion. Without the additional funding, it “will leave us unequipped to deal with a future surge,” the letter read.

Since January 2022 more than 60 million households All over the country, customers have placed orders free at-home COVID-19 tests Access to free testing sites throughout the country was available. 21,500 locations All over the country. Residents of the USA also received free vaccines and booster shots at over 90,000 locations in the country. Furthermore, low-income and minority communities have been given free vaccines. highest demand COVID-19 care is federally funded

Those who don’t use the clinics offered by the government typically go to hospitals, pharmacies, or health clinics for COVID-19-related services. Without government funding, those without health insurance have few options for seeking treatment and are forced to search for it. community-based care optionsLook for providers willing to pay the bill or find out how you can pay it yourself.

Ramifications of reduced funding

In the Biden administration’s letter to Congress, officials said it will be “too late” if Congress waits until there is another surge to provide funding. The letter also addresses the consequences of the lack of sustained funding.

  • Not having enough boosters
  • Lack of funding to develop additional vaccines that could protect against future variants.
  • Reduce preventative treatment for immunocompromised people.
  • Being “blindsided” by future variants.

Not only will the lack of funding affect currently infected individuals, but it also “increases the possibility of spread, putting more of the population at risk,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association. “This can raise the chance of more threatening variants becoming widespread.”

Despite repeated requests, additional COVID-19 resources haven’t been approved. Instead, Republican senators are asking the Biden administration For a detailed description of how the previous round was spent, click here

The cost of a COVID-19 testing can range from $20 to 850 without government funding. The median cost is $127. Recently, there has been a decrease in demand from citizens who cannot afford to pay COVID-19 and other health care resources out-of-pocket. This has made it more difficult for some testing sites. Many states and health care agencies have had to close down as a result.

New Hampshire closed all state-managed COVID-19 vaccination sites Officials in San Diego stated that the vaccination numbers were sufficient at the end March Officials in San Diego closed the Jacobs Center vaccination site Because of a drop in vaccine requests and testing, they have opened mobile clinics. For now, they’re still offering tests free of charge despite federal funding running out.

Embry Health recently announced that it would be providing COVID-19 testing in Arizona. suspend testing at 60 sites Ask individuals without insurance for $100 to cover COVID-19 testing and $200 for rapid PCR testing at the remaining locations.

“Embry was paying for the uninsured to get tests after the government funding stopped on March 22, 2022, but as of April 2nd, can no longer afford to do so,” the company said in a statement.

CDR Health, an Florida-based company offering COVID-19 tests to almost 15,000 people each day during surges. closed down all 30 of its free testing centers Due to lack of funds.

Reducing funding will increase health inequalities

There were estimates of survey data 28-31 million uninsured people In the U.S., 2020, and as many 14.4 million people They could lose their health insurance coverage if the public health crisis ends. So while paid testing will continue to be available, it won’t be affordable or accessible for everyone, especially for marginalized communities who already face systemic health care bias. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that a significant portion of the population is comprised of communities of color and families with low incomes. disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases Experts say that the lack of funding will increase these economic and health inequalities.

“Low-income communities and uninsured individuals, which often includes communities of color, are at the greatest risk because they will not have the financial means or insurance protections to cover vaccinations, testing, and health care if the federal government runs out of money to pay for them,” Benjamin said.

What happens if a new variant is created?

The majority of Americans have received their COVID-19 vaccine doses. Data from Bloomberg’s COVID-19 vaccination tracker As of April 13, 567 million doses had been administered. Experts warn that this may partly explain why people are not visiting vaccination centers as much. this does not mean the pandemic is over or that there’s no more need for doses or testing.

“If the BA.2 variant causes big outbreaks or there’s a new variant spreading, we will not be prepared for another surge of infections without federal funding,” Benjamin said.

Lyle Solomon (principal attorney at the office) stated that without the funding required, the government is unable purchase more life-saving monoclonal anti-microbial medicines or provide boosters shots or other variant-specific vaccinations. Oak View Law Group.

“There will be a gradual reduction in the money available to pay doctors and other health care providers who treat those uninsured,” Solomon added.

In such situations, health care providers will have to cover the costs of uninsured patients, or turn them away. This will increase the gap in access to needed care. The number of people who get the shots will be reduced if they are not available for free. This could lead to a significant problem if the number of cases increases or if there is a new type.

“We are still not at the optimal level of vaccination, including booster shots,” Benjamin said.

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