COVID-19 Uninsured Program Runs Out of Money
Providers who rely on the Health Resources & Services Administration (“HRSA “) COVID-19 Uninsured Program (“UIP”) for reimbursements related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccine administration will no longer be reimbursed for these services, based on the current funding remaining in the UIP. The UIP was put in place near the start of the pandemic and paid out more than $175 billion dollars to over 50,000 providers according to HRSA’s data.
Recently, HRSA announced that due to a lack of funds, the UIP will stop accepting claims for COVID-19 testing and treatment on March 22, 2022. The UIP will stop accepting claims for COVID-19 vaccine administration on April 5, 2022. Unfortunately, unless Congress passes emergency funding measures, many providers may be out luck for reimbursements as HRSA has advised that claims submitted by the designated deadlines are subject to eligibility and the availability of funds.
In a letter dated March 15, 2022, Shalanda D. Young, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Jeffrey D. Zients, White House Coordinator for COVID-19 Response, sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives. In this letter, Young and Zients reiterated previous requests for additional emergency funding and stated that the failure to provide that funding is resulting in numerous negative consequences. In light of the rising cases of COVID-19 and the lack of funding in the United States, Young and Zients noted the following concerns:
The federal government does not have sufficient resources to purchase booster vaccines for all Americans, if needed;
The UIP will end completely in early April and providers will be forced to turn away uninsured patients, increasing the disparity in access to health care;
The federal government has no further funding to purchase additional monoclonal antibody treatments, which has been a life-saving treatment during these times; and
The federal government has no more funding to purchase additional oral antiviral pills, accelerate the creation of a vaccine that would provide broad protection against a range of variants, or maintain domestic testing capacity beyond June.
While the UIP has served as critical means of support for health care providers diagnosing and treating uninsured individuals related to COVID-19, the end of the UIP will force providers to absorb the cost or turn away uninsured individuals.