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Fact Sheet: The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 Tests to Americans for Free

The Biden administration is buying one billion tests to give to Americans for free. Online ordering for the half-billion test begins Jan. 19; Builds on important measures to expand testing capacity and increase access to free exams

Testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Americans use the tests at home if, at least five days after they begin to develop symptoms, they have had close contact with a person with COVID-19, or have been gathering indoors with a group. of people at risk of severe disease or not vaccinated.

To help ensure Americans have tests on hand should the need arise, the Biden administration is buying one billion rapid at-home COVID-19 tests to give Americans free. Half a billion tests will be available to order on January 19y It will be mailed directly to US homes.

There will be free tests available to every household, and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow four free tests to be ordered per residential address. Starting January 19yAmericans will be able to order their tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will usually be shipped within 7-12 days of ordering.

To ensure equality and access for all Americans, the administration will also launch a contact line to help those who cannot access the website to apply, and work with national and local community-based organizations to support the nation’s hardest-hit and most dangerous communities in ordering tests.

In addition to this new program, there are many other options available to Americans for testing. There are now more than 20,000 free testing sites across the country, including four times as many pharmacies participating in the Federal Free Pharmacy Testing Program as they had in January 2021, as well as federal free testing sites, with more free testing sites opening each week. Millions of free at-home COVID-19 tests have been delivered to thousands of community health centers and rural health clinics for distribution to their patients, with more being delivered each week. In addition, the administration has provided schools with $10 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to conduct testing in K-12 school districts. The administration has invested nearly $6 billion in ARP funding to cover free testing for uninsured individuals, support for testing at correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and mental health facilities.

Just this week, management also announced that starting from January 15th,yPrivate health insurers will be required to cover COVID-19 tests at home for free — and make an additional 10 million COVID-19 tests available to schools across the country, each month.

Since January 2021, the administration has taken significant action to dramatically increase the overall supply of COVID-19 testing in the country, the number of tests authorized for use in the United States, and the number of places Americans can get tested, while lowering costs for consumers and increasing access to free testing. .

This comprehensive approach has produced significant results: Today, there are nine rapid home tests on the market in the United States — from scratch when the president took office. In December, there were more than 300 million rapid at-home tests available in the US market, up from 24 million tests in August – a more than 10-fold rise. This month, the number of rapid at-home tests available for the US market will rise to 375 million — in addition to the free tests available through COVIDTests.gov.

Distributing free at-home COVID-19 tests to US homes: This program will ensure that rapid at-home COVID-19 tests will be available to Americans in the coming weeks and months — as well as a number of other ways they can get tested. The department is rapidly completing the contracting process for an unprecedented purchase of 1 billion rapid home tests to distribute as part of this program. The Department of Defense, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, has already awarded many of the contracts that will result from this process — with more than 420 million tests already under contract. Due to the sheer volume of tests being procured and the diversity of manufacturers, additional contracts will continue to be awarded over the coming weeks.

  • Application process: Starts January 19thyAmericans will be able to order the test online at COVIDTests.gov. To ensure wide access, the program will limit the number of tests sent to each residential address to four. Tests are usually shipped within 7-12 days of ordering.
  • Distribution and Delivery Process: The department will partner with the United States Postal Service to package and deliver the tests to Americans who want them. All orders in the continental United States will be dispatched with First Class Package Service, with shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, and US Territories and to APO/FPO/DPO addresses sent via priority mail.
  • Ensuring equity and access to hardest-hit communities: The Department is taking a number of steps to ensure that this program reaches our hardest-hit and most at-risk communities. This includes prioritizing treatment orders for families with the highest levels of social vulnerability and in communities that have experienced a disproportionate proportion of COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly during this Omicron wave; launching a toll-free line, so Americans who have difficulty accessing the Internet or need additional support can call in phone commands to take their exams; Working with national and local organizations with deep experience serving communities of color, people with disabilities, and other high-risk communities to serve as navigators, raise awareness about the program and assist people with applications.

The Biden administration continues to act aggressively to increase equitable access to free COVID-19 testing for all Americans, as testing needs emerge. This includes:

  • Requiring health insurers to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests at home from January 15thy: And the administration announced, on Monday, that this will be effective from January 15thyPrivate insurance companies will be required to cover COVID-19 tests at home. This means that consumers who have private health insurance coverage will be able to get these tests for free. Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight free home tests per covered individual per month. This means that a family of four, all on the same plan, will be able to get 32 ​​of these tests covered by their health plan per month. As part of the requirement, the administration is aggressively incentivizing plans and insurance companies to allow people to get these tests directly through preferred drugstores or retailers without out-of-pocket costs, with the plan or insurance company covering the cost up front, eliminating the need for people to file reimbursement claims.
  • Conducting an additional 10 million tests for schools nationwide: On Wednesday, the administration took new measures to increase access to COVID-19 testing in schools. This includes increasing the number of COVID-19 tests available to schools by 10 million per month to help schools remain safely open, implementing screening and survival testing programs – which will allow schools to double the volume of tests they performed in November 2021 – and supporting free testing access for students and school staff and families through federal testing sites. These actions double the administration’s commitment to keeping all schools safely open for full-time in-person learning, and build on the historic investments the administration has already made to expand school testing, including providing $10 billion in US bailout funding to support for COVID-19 screening testing. for teachers, staff, students and $130 billion in US rescue plan funding that schools can use to test for COVID-19. In addition to these resources, and at the direction of the President, FEMA is offering states, tribes, and territories 100% federal reimbursement for support for COVID-19 testing, including in schools. There was no federal support for testing in schools before the administration began.
  • Standing at new federal testing sites free of mutations: To assist states and communities that need additional testing capabilities while battling Omicron, the administration has quickly set up several new free federal testing sites across the country over the past several weeks. Already, 18 accessible locations are operating in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Washington, DC—with about 20 more to open soon. These new federal sites have been instrumental in ensuring that our hardest-hit and at-risk communities have equitable access to testing, with preliminary data showing that more than three out of four tests in New York and New Jersey sites — sites that have been opened for longer — have been given to people of color.

These actions are based on the important steps taken by the administration since the first day of testing to:

  • Increasing the overall supply of testing in the United States: As of last February, the administration used the Defense Production, Industrial Packaging and Advance Purchase Commitments Act to increase the supply of tests, including rapid in-house tests. This includes $3 billion in pre-purchase commitments this fall, which allowed local test manufacturers to ramp up production, add plant lines, increase staffing, and raise manufacturing schedules. As a result, the US went from 24 million rapid home tests on the market in August, to 46 million in October, to 100 million in November, to more than 300 million in December, to 375 million in January. This is in addition to the work the department has done to increase laboratory capacity for COVID-19 testing; The United States now performs more lab tests per capita than many peer countries, including Germany, Canada, and Japan.
  • Increasing the number of authorized tests in the United States: In March, to bring more at-home and rapid tests to market, the administration worked to create a new, streamlined path for manufacturers to more quickly obtain authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct their tests. This accelerated track has been used successfully by at least six plants this year. Additionally, using resources from the US bailout, the administration launched an innovative new partnership between the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration last October to help manufacturers speed up authorization. The first two tests to use this track were approved in December — weeks, if not months, ahead of schedule. These measures paid off: when the president took office, there were no quick internal tests on the market. Today, there are nine on the market. This gives consumers more choices and increases competition for lower prices.
  • Increasing the number of test places in the United States: Since January 2021, the administration has quadrupled the number of pharmacies participating in the federal in-store testing program — from 2,500 to more than 10,000. At the direction of the president, FEMA has provided states, tribes, and territories with 100 percent compensation. More than a range of testing costs, including state-operated testing sites, have been reported since January 2021. Overall, there are now more than 20,000 federally supported free testing sites nationwide, with more pharmacies joining the free federal testing program each week. In addition, the administration has created new federal free rush testing sites in areas of need, with more opening each week.
  • Increased access to free tests in the United States: From the start, the administration has taken important measures to reduce the cost of testing and increase access to free testing. Last February, the administration asked insurers to cover the tests ordered by the provider for free, including for individuals without symptoms. The administration has also worked to ensure Medicaid programs cover all COVID-19 testing, and has invested nearly $5 billion to cover testing costs for uninsured individuals — resulting in more than 47 million tests being covered. In addition to increasing the number of free test sites to more than 20,000 sites nationwide, the department provides 2.5 million tests to long-term care facilities each week, and has launched a program to distribute 50 million free home tests to thousands of sites, including community health centers and rural health clinics. that serve the hardest-hit and most at-risk communities. The announcements released today and earlier this week build on this work and will further ensure that all Americans have equal access to the free test.

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