Free PCR For All
Take Action for Free PCR and CDC Data Collection
With the end of the public health emergency, PCR tests will no longer be free. People with insurance will need a doctor's order to access PCR tests, and insurance may limit testing for individuals with COVID-like symptoms. Both the test and the associated doctor’s visit both will be subject to cost-sharing, depending on the plan. Uninsured people will have increasing difficulty accessing affordable PCR tests.
Without PCR test data, local health departments and in turn the CDC will stop reporting on transmission – We will be flying blind, unable to understand the current state of the pandemic, locally and nationally.
Join us in writing Congress and the CDC and telling them to 1) make Free PCR tests available for all, and to 2) demand the CDC continue tracking and reporting on COVID transmission.
With at least 40% of COVID infections asymptomatic, free PCR tests are an essential tool to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. PCR tests detect infection earlier than rapid antigen tests, and produce significantly fewer false negatives. With sufficient funding, lab-based PCR tests can turn around results in 24 hours or less. Further Access to COVID treatment like Paxlovid requires a positive test, and must be administered within five days of symptom onset, so uninsured and low-income people who are unable to access testing will see additional barriers to treatment. Free and fast PCR testing is especially essential as we work to protect people who are most likely to see serious impacts from COVID infection: immunocompromised, disabled, elderly and other high-risk people. This will particularly impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx, elderly, low income and disabled people, who have suffered disproportionately in the pandemic.
The CDC’s ICATT Must Be Expanded to Provide Tests for All
The CDC’s Increasing Access to Testing Program (ICATT) has the authority to continue providing no-cost COVID testing “for communities who are at a greater risk of being impacted by the pandemic and people without health insurance.” The PHE allowed Health and Human Services to mandate laboratory reporting, and local and state public health departments will no longer be required to report tests. However, the CDC’s Increasing Access to Testing Program can and must make free PCR tests available to all. This may circumvent that limitation in data gathering.
Join us in writing Congress, the CDC and the ICATT and ask them to make Free PCR tests available for all through ICATT. They can do this by maintaining and expanding the pharmacy and stand-alone testing sites through Color Health, eTruthNorth, Quest and others at libraries, retail locations and independent pharmacies, and to expand this program to require community health centers to test residents for free. We will also tell the CDC to continue gathering and reporting COVID transmission through their Community Transmission map.
See the CDC’s April 13 Release and their call for Public Comment on the End of the Public Health Emergency Here.