March 13, 2020

Udall, Heinrich Introduce Bill To Expand Free Coronavirus Testing

Legislation Would Provide Free Diagnostic Testing and Related Health Care Services for Americans Receiving Tests to Confirm Coronavirus Infection

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and a number of their Democratic Senate colleagues to introduce the Free COVID-19 Testing Act, which would expand free tests to confirm coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

The Free COVID-19 Testing Act would waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services for individuals enrolled in private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as for federal civilians, American Indians and Alaska Natives. Private insurers would be barred from imposing limits like prior authorization for testing. For uninsured individuals, this legislation would cover the cost of lab fees, and states would have the option and new incentives to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services through their Medicaid programs.

“Whether or not you get a COVID-19 test shouldn’t be determined by how much money you have. Forcing people to forgo testing because it’s too expensive is both immoral and bad for our public health response,” Udall said. “Testing for COVID-19 is a key tool to keep our communities safe, and this legislation will make sure no one faces economic barriers to keeping themselves, their families and their neighbors safe. While I commend the rapid deployment of coronavirus testing from public health officials in New Mexico, the federal government has been far too slow to help and this free-of-charge testing must be available nationwide. I will continue to urge federal agencies and the Trump administration to do more to ensure the widespread availability of free testing and monitoring, to transparently communicate with the American people, and to develop relief measures that focus on the needs of working families.”

"Expanding free diagnostic testing for COVID-19 infections is one of the greatest ways to make our public health response to this pandemic more targeted and effective," Heinrich said. "It is critical for us to be able to identify and contain positive cases in our communities. Containing and mitigating the transmission of this virus will slow the spread of disease and save lives. Tests absolutely must be readily available to every single American who needs one."

You can access text of the bill here.