MM Curator summary
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[MM Curator Summary]: In which the author criticizes Medicaid payments for testing of a disease that some sources say killed 15M people worldwide before we stopped counting. But we all know Joe Rogan has the real scoop..
The federal public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic came to an end Thursday, more than three years after it was first enacted in 2020. That comes on the heels of the World Health Organization’s declaration on May 5 that COVID-19 was no longer a global health emergency.
And on the same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would stop tracking new cases. In other words, the pandemic is largely behind us. Yet Medicaid is still covering over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for beneficiaries free of charge. That makes little sense. No other payor is under the same obligation. Provisions requiring Medicare and private insurers to cover up to eight at-home tests per month for free expired along with the public health emergency.
But under the American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed in 2021, state Medicaid plans must continue offering at-home tests to enrollees free of charge. The requirement won’t sunset until the end of September 2024 — roughly a year and a half after the end of the public health emergency. Why are taxpayers covering the cost of tests for a virus that no longer constitutes a public health crisis? It’s not cheap. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program cover 93 million people. Even assuming just one test per person over the next 16 months, the additional cost would run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
But what’s a new nine-figure cost when Medicaid already accounts for $734 billion in annual spending each year? Even the public health establishment has declared that it’s time to move on from COVID-19. Medicaid should follow suit.
Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All (Encounter 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.