Schumer, Murray, And Wyden Send Letter To Vice President Pence Demanding Answers On The Alarming Lack Of Access To Coronavirus Testing, Patients Need Assurances That Testing Will Be Free For Those Who Need It

March 10, 2020

Washington, D.C. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter today to Vice President Pence regarding the mass confusion and lack of clarity around the availability of coronavirus testing and out-of-pocket costs associated with getting tests and treatment.

Senators Schumer, Murray and Wyden today sent a letter to Vice President Pence demanding the Trump administration answer essential questions regarding testing for the coronavirus. The Administration’s continued mismanagement of the coronavirus response has left hundreds of millions of Americans without answers as to whether they can get tested if they need to, and if they can access testing without incurring personal out of-pocket costs. The Senators said that the Administration must immediately address:

1)     The availability of tests nationwide;

2)     The lack of clarity for hundreds of millions of Americans about how testing and care is covered for those who need it;

3)     The proliferation of junk insurance and a lack of clarity about whether patients will face unexpected cost-sharing when being tested; and

4)     The lack of access to paid sick days for millions of workers.

“We write with serious concerns regarding mass confusion and lack of clarity around insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs associated with testing for and treatment of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).  We must have a shared goal of ensuring that all people who need to be tested can access a test without any out-of-pocket costs, and that all people who need care can receive and afford it. It is vital that the Administration offer immediate clarity, guidance, and solutions. Any individual’s inability to access testing or care presents a critical risk to the broader public,” the Senators wrote in the letter.

“The Trump administration’s total mismanagement of the coronavirus response and insistence on downplaying this epidemic has led to complete confusion when it comes to how people can get tested and whether they will be charged out-of-pocket if they do get tested.  Putting up financial barriers that discourage people from getting the tests and treatment is not only morally wrong, but a threat to the entire community where those people live. I urge the Administration to immediately ensure that all people can access testing with no out-of-pocket costs,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

“Cost should not be a barrier to anyone seeking needed testing or care, especially in the middle of a public health emergency. A robust public health response requires ensuring people who need testing or care for coronavirus can seek it without being deterred by costs. The Trump administration must take action, give clear, comprehensive guidance, and leave no question people who need care in response to this crisis can get it without worrying about whether they will be stuck with a bill they can’t pay. We can’t risk leaving people unsure about whether they can afford to take the steps that are best for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Senator Murray.

“The Trump administration has spent years undermining America’s health care infrastructure, putting American families at an even greater risk during this public health emergency,” Senator Wyden said. “We are calling on the Trump administration to take several commonsense steps that would help fight spread of the coronavirus and prevent more Americans from getting sick—anything less will be a failure to protect Americans’ health care." 

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