This week the Biden Administration announced several increases in funding and other policy changes to promote COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines. These targeted funding announcements and other policy changes are consistent with the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness to implement a coordinated effort around testing, treatment and vaccines to improve the effectiveness of the overall national response to the pandemic for all Americans, including the most vulnerable.
COVID-19 Testing and Funding Announcement
On March 17, the Biden Administration announced more than $12 billion in funding, allocated from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to COVID-19 testing. As part of its national strategy, the Administration is looking to increase COVID-19 testing as vaccinations increase.
The Administration announced the following:
- $10 billion: To support COVID-19 screening testing for teachers, staff and students to assist schools in reopening safely for in-person instruction
- $2.25 billion: To address COVID-19-related health disparities and advance health equity among high-risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas
- $255 million: A contract for the production and delivery of 50 million Abbott BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care antigen tests for COVID-19 to support continued screening testing in long-term care facilities
In support of this funding, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is releasing guidance on testing, including how to mitigate asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is providing new recommendations and information for test developers on emergency use authorization for screening tests.
COVID-19 Treatment Finding Announcement
On March 17, the Biden Administration announced $150 million in funding to increase access to COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapeutic treatments for patients in vulnerable communities across the country. These treatments are used to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
This funding will focus on communities that have high levels of COVID-19 and are determined to be particularly vulnerable based on the CDC social vulnerability index. This initiative is part of President Biden’s larger national pandemic strategy which has prioritized addressing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S.
Increase Payment for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration
On March 15, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced significant increases in Medicare reimbursement for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Each administration for single-dose vaccines increased from $28 to $40 and $45 to $80 for multi-dose vaccines. The agency further clarified that no beneficiary will be required to pay any cost-sharing amount to receive the vaccine. The agency also announced a 100% federal matching rate for Medicaid and CHIP administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, passed as part of the ARP. The newly signed law also expands vaccine eligibility under Medicaid.
Expansion of Eligible Vaccinators
On March 12, 2021, the Administration expanded the list of qualified medical professionals to prescribe, dispense, and administer FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines to include dentists, EMTs, midwives, optometrists, paramedics, physician assistants, podiatrists, respiratory therapists, and veterinarians. The announcement also permits certain medical and nursing students to administer vaccines with physician supervision.
Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 emerging issues through the McDermottPlus Coronavirus Resource Center or the McDermott, Will & Emery Coronavirus Resource Center.
For more information visit the McDermottPlus Payment Innovation Resource Center or contact Sheila Madhani, Mara McDermott or Katie Waldo.