(The Hill) — President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that Americans with private insurance will be able to receive reimbursements for at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests as part of a broader plan to combat the omicron and delta variants.
The White House said that departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury will issue guidance by mid-January clarifying that Americans with private insurance will be able to seek reimbursement for the costs of the at-home tests during the public health emergency.
A senior administration official said that the new policy would impact some 150 million Americans who have private insurance. The reimbursement is not expected to be retroactive, but officials are still working out the specifics of the policy.
Additionally, Biden will announce plans to expand access to free at-home tests in underserved communities in the U.S. The administration plans to distribute 25 million more free tests to community sites, on top of the 25 million Biden already committed. The administration is also adding rural clinics to the list of sites that will receive the free tests.
Health experts say that increased COVID-19 testing, in addition to the push for vaccines, will be key to confronting the virus and its more transmissible variants.
Biden is scheduled to lay out the White House’s multi-step plan in a speech at the National Institutes of Health Thursday afternoon. He will also announce other steps, like stricter testing rules for international travelers entering the U.S. and an extension of the TSA’s mask mandate for domestic transit.
The first known case of the omicron variant in the U.S. was detected Wednesday in California. Officials are rushing to understand more about the variant, including its transmissibility, severity and the degree to which the COVID-19 vaccines protect against it. U.S. officials expect the vaccines to provide at least some protection and are urging Americans who have not done so to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive booster shots.