(The Hill) – President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday that Americans with private insurance will be able to receive reimbursements for home COVID-19 diagnostic tests as part of a larger plan to fight omicron variants and delta.
The White House said the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury would issue guidelines by mid-January specifying that Americans with private insurance will be able to claim reimbursement for the costs of tests at home during a public health emergency.
A senior administration official said the new policy would impact some 150 million Americans who have private insurance. The refund shouldn’t be retroactive, but officials are still working out the details of the policy.
Additionally, Biden will announce plans to expand access to free home testing in underserved communities in the United States. The administration plans to distribute an additional 25 million free tests to community sites, in addition to the 25 million Biden already committed. The administration is also adding rural clinics to the list of sites that will receive free tests.
Health experts say an increase in COVID-19 testing, in addition to the push for vaccines, will be key to dealing with the virus and its more transmissible variants.
Biden is expected to present the multi-step plan to the White House in a speech to the National Institutes of Health Thursday afternoon. It will also announce other measures, such as stricter testing rules for international travelers entering the United States and an extension of the TSA’s mask mandate for domestic transit.
The first known case of the omicron variant in the United States was detected in California on Wednesday. Authorities are rushing to learn more about the variant, including its transmissibility, severity, and the degree to which COVID-19 vaccines protect against it. U.S. officials expect the vaccines to at least offer some protection and urge Americans who have not yet done so to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive boosters.