ATLANTA — Unless Congress passes another round of COVID-19 relief funds, come March 22, uninsured individuals will no longer be eligible to get free coronavirus treatment.
This update comes two weeks after The White House unveiled the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which outlines how the country plans to move forward in this later stage of the pandemic.
However, Dr. Cameron Webb, Senior Advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response Team said, despite the drop in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, without these funds the U.S. would “lose the ability to stay prepared.”
He said that many people will start to see the effects of these changes, starting with those who do not have insurance.
“As early as next Tuesday, for uninsured individuals getting tests and treatments for COVID-19, there's not going to be that fund from Health and Human Services to support them, so providers will either have to provide that care for free or turn them away," he said.
In addition, the government is also decreasing the number of supplies each state receives including the life-saving monoclonal antibody treatments.
“We're decreasing the amount of monoclonal antibodies that we're sending to states by 30 percent this week, and that's not something that we want to do,” said Webb.
To continue to provide the necessary services to Americans, Congress needs to allocate $22.5 billion in “immediate emergency funding," according to the White House news release.
This money will go to buying more supplies like vaccines, boosters, testing equipment, and treatments, but overall the release said that these funds will be a way to make sure all Americans have access to these services.
“That $22.5 billion, every dollar of it is mission-critical for our ability to really focus in on preparedness and execution. It's our ability to make sure that we have the next round of vaccines that may be necessary or even variant-specific vaccines if that becomes necessary, making sure that there are enough tests for people,” said Webb.
Unless Congress passes these funds, starting April 5, uninsured individuals will also no longer have access to free COVID-19 vaccines.