© 2022 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Over-the-counter COVID tests will soon be free for Medicare recipients

COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits are seen in Los Angeles on Jan. 7.
Mario Tama
/
Getty Images
COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits are seen in Los Angeles on Jan. 7.

Medicare and Medicare Advantage recipients will be eligible for free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests beginning in early spring, the Biden administration announced on Thursday.

The plan will allow for up to eight tests a month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a media release Thursday.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older, some younger Americans with disabilities and those with certain illnesses.

"This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test at no cost to beneficiaries," CMS wrote in the release.

"There are a number of issues that have made it difficult to cover and pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. However, given the importance of expanding access to testing, CMS has identified a pathway that will expand access to free over-the-counter testing for Medicare beneficiaries."

The Biden administration has faced criticism for its handling of certain aspects of the pandemic, including for its response to providing free, easily accessible testing for all Americans.

In response, the federal government announced that beginning earlier this year, Americans would be able to request four, free at-home tests to be delivered directly to their doors. The administration purchased a half-billion tests to support that effort.

Biden has for months acknowledged the fatigue many COVID-weary Americans are feeling as the pandemic enters its third spring. But in his first formal press conference of the new year, Biden admitted that his team should have done more on testing sooner.

"This new initiative will enable payment from Medicare directly to participating pharmacies and other participating entities to allow Medicare beneficiaries to pick up tests at no cost. CMS anticipates that this option will be available to people with Medicare in the early spring," CMS said.

Individuals with private insurance plans have been able to apply for reimbursement for tests, up to eight per person, per month, since last month.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content