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Funding is running out for COVID-19 tests for uninsured patients

After Tuesday, the federal government will stop reimbursing providers for COVID-19 tests performed for patients who don’t have health insurance. The Health Resources & Services Administration says it no longer has enough funding to reimburse for the tests and Congress has so far failed to provide additional funding. 

Raymond Embry is CEO of Embry Health, Arizona’s largest COVID-19 test provider. He said cutting funding for testing will make it harder for public health experts to understand how the virus is spreading.

“Just imagine what will happen next time there’s a surge if testing providers do not feel confident about the ability to provide these services to patients,” Embry said. 

Embry said about 60% of patients at his testing sites have not been insured. He said the company stands to lose millions if outstanding claims are not reimbursed. He said he hopes Congress will take action to extend funding for COVID-19 testing. For now, he said Embry Health plans to continue to provide no-cost tests to anyone.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.