As US waits for Pfizer’s Omicron vaccine, Biden administration obtains private-sector home COVID testing
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Amid an Omicron wave that triggers dozens of tense school and hospital closures due to staff shortages and increased hospitalizations across the country, the White House has detailed its plans to force companies insurance to reimburse purchases of COVID-19 tests at home.
In addition, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announced on Jan.10 that the pharmaceutical company was set to launch a redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of the virus by March, according to reports.
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Beginning January 15, people with private health insurance or group health plan coverage who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test licensed, licensed, or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from United States will be able to have these test costs covered by their plan or insurance, according to a statement from the administration.
Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight free over-the-counter home tests per covered person per month. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of tests, including home tests, that are covered if ordered or administered by a healthcare provider following an individualized clinical assessment, including for those who might need it due to underlying medical conditions.
“Under President Biden’s leadership, we demand that insurers and group health plans make testing free for millions of Americans. This is all part of our overall strategy to accelerate access to easy-to-use and free home tests, ”said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in the statement. “Since taking office, we have more than tripled the number of sites where people can get COVID-19 tests for free, and we are also purchasing half a billion rapid home tests to send free to Americans who do. need. . By requiring private health plans to cover people’s homes for testing, we are further expanding the ability of Americans to get tests for free when they need them. “
The administration said that when plans and insurers offer tests for initial coverage through pharmacies or preferred retailers, they are still required to reimburse for tests purchased by consumers outside that network, at a rate up to $ 12 per individual test.
“Testing is of critical importance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as to quickly diagnose COVID-19 so that it can be treated effectively. Today’s action further removes financial barriers and extends access to COVID-19 testing to millions of people, ”said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services.
Meanwhile, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, speaking at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference on January 10, said that on Monday the pharmaceutical company and its partner BioNTech had already started making a version of the vaccine that would target both the rapidly spreading Omicron strain as well as the original COVID-19 strain, reports Barron.
“Not only will we have data, but I think we’ll be almost ready to go, drop, and launch if that’s successful and if we need the demand,” Bourla said, according to Barron’s.
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“The hope is that we do something that will provide much, much better protection, especially against infections, because protection against hospitalizations and serious illness – that’s reasonable right now, with current vaccines as long as you have, let’s say the third dose, ”Bourla added on CNBC.