Crist Urges Increased Access to Affordable COVID-19 Rapid Tests

Washington, DC – With a surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of the omicron variant, U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D–St. Petersburg) sent a letter yesterday to President Biden requesting the Administration focus on increasing access to affordable COVID-19 testing options for low-income, uninsured Americans. On December 2, 2021, President Biden announced that health insurance will reimburse Americans for at-home test kits and several retailers will sell rapid tests at cost.  However, because the state has not expanded Medicaid, many of the 2.8 million uninsured Floridians could be left out of this benefit.

In the letter, Congressman Crist asks to prioritize efforts to make at-home testing kits more affordable and accessible for low-income Americans, so that millions of uninsured Floridians can protect themselves and their loved ones from the spread of COVID-19.

“Floridians are doing what they can to combat the spread of COVID-19, and that means using every weapon in our arsenal to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Rep. Crist. “COVID-19 rapid tests allow Americans to know their status within minutes. That can be the difference so people do not accidentally bring COVID-19 to grandmother’s house this Christmas. It will also be a key tool for keeping children in school safely so parents can go to work. President Biden’s recent announcement that health insurance will cover at-home rapid tests is a critical step.  Now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and make sure that millions of uninsured Floridians can also protect themselves and loved ones by having access to affordable at-home rapid tests.” 

A PDF of the letter can be found here, with text appearing below:

 

                                                                       December 20, 2021

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for all you are doing to keep the American people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, I request your attention to the issue of increasing access to affordable at-home testing for lower income, uninsured Americans, who are statistically at higher health risk from COVID-19.

I applaud your Administration for allocating $3 billion this fall to provide additional at-home testing kits, with the goal, as stated by your COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, to have an “available supply of 200 million rapid at-home tests per month, starting in December.” In addition, your agreement with some of our country’s largest online and brick-and-mortar retailers, including Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon, to sell the tests at-cost, with no point-of-sale markup, combined with your actions to strengthen the supply chain and increase production, will continue to lower costs and make these tests more accessible.

In that vein, I request that the Administration continue efforts to make at-home testing kits more affordable, particularly for low income, uninsured, high-risk Americans. While I applaud your recent announcement that people with health insurance can be reimbursed for at-home test kits, I fear that many Floridians will still be left out. Since Florida has not expanded Medicaid, and while we continue to wait for the United States Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act, hundreds of thousands of Floridians do not qualify for Medicaid or affordable insurance under the Affordable Care Act. This contributes to Florida’s 13.2% uninsured rate – among the highest in the nation. I fear that many of these people cannot afford to pay the current prices of at-home testing kits, especially families who want to regularly test their children.

I understand guidance for your plan for increased access to at-home testing kits will be made public in January. To that end, I request that you make affordable testing for low income, uninsured Americans a top priority, considering innovative ways to increase the number and distribution of testing kits available to this high risk segment of our society.

I stand ready to work with you, in addition to at-home testing kit manufacturers, suppliers, and state and local leaders, to increase access to at-home tests for uninsured Americans. By increasing our testing supply and availability to the most vulnerable, we can make sure nobody is left behind in our ongoing efforts to protect public health and lower costs for American families.

Sincerely,

Charlie Crist

UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN

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