Brown Secures Commitment That Medicare Will Cover Costs for Over-The-Counter Covid-19 Tests



 

Brown Sent a Letter Last Month Urging HHS, CMS to Cover the Costs of At-Home COVID-19 Tests for Medicare Recipients

WASHINGTON, DC—Following a letter sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that CMS has heeded his call and will begin covering over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for those in either Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage beginning in early spring. Ohioans who rely on Medicare for their health insurance coverage will be able to access up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month for free. This new initiative will cover over-the-counter COVID-19 tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and enable payment directly to participating pharmacies and other participating entities to allow Medicare beneficiaries to pick up tests at no cost and without needing to be reimbursed. Today’s announcement from CMS follows last month’s announcement that the Administration would be requiring commercial health insurance companies to cover at-home COVID tests for free.
“I’m encouraged that CMS, under the leadership of Administrator Brooks-LaSure, will begin covering over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for Ohio seniors,” said Brown. I urge CMS to work to implement this new policy quickly so that older Ohioans can pick up COVID tests from their local pharmacies without being on the hook for the out-of-pocket costs.”
 
Last month, Brown joined Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and 17 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, urging them to expand Medicare coverage of free at-home rapid COVID-19 testing to the more than 61 million Americans, including the more than 2.3 million Ohioans, enrolled in Medicare.
Currently, most private insurance companies are required to cover the cost of up to eight over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests per person, per month, but the 61 million Americans enrolled in original Medicare or private Medicare Advantage plans do not get this reimbursement.
CMS anticipates that this option will be available to people with Medicare in the early spring. Until then, people with Medicare can access free tests through a number of channels, including requesting free over-the-counter tests for home delivery at covidtests.gov.