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For Immediate Release
Contact: Ryan Rudominer, Always Essential,
January 12, 2022  

Always Essential: Biden Administration Must Not Abandon Free Testing for 28M Uninsured Americans

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, Always Essential issued a statement calling on the Biden Administration to cover over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests for the nation’s 28 million uninsured Americans. Always Essential’s call is in response to the Biden Administration’s announcement that starting on January 15th, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans.

“We have several serious concerns with the Biden Administration’s new order requiring private insurers to cover the cost of eight at-home coronavirus tests per member per month. First and foremost, the nation’s 28 million uninsured Americans are not eligible for this plan. While they may receive two tests as part of President Biden’s promised 500 million free rapid tests being delivered later this month, the uninsured are on the hook for the full amount of over-the-counter tests. That defies common sense.

“Neither Covid-19 nor the Omicron variant surging across America checks peoples’ insurance cards, race, or how much money people have in their pocket.

“For the past 21 months, essential workers have risked their health and safety to fuel our economy and keep our communities safe and fed. On average, our nation’s essential workers  – disproportionately Black, people of color, immigrants, women, and members of other marginalized communities – have lower incomes and continue to face greater COVID-19 risks than those with higher-income, more Zoom-friendly jobs. Despite their heroic sacrifices, many essential workers continue to face exploitative working conditions.

“Another issue is that as workers leave their jobs during the Great Resignation, many lose their health insurance tied to their employment. Although the unemployment rate may have dropped in the past year, enrollment in employer-sponsored healthcare coverage has not rebounded.

“Also concerning is that because Biden’s plan requires Americans to go through insurance companies to obtain reimbursement for tests, the Administration is essentially forcing even more Americans to stand in exceptionally long lines or hunt for what few remain on the shelves and wrestle with insurance companies for reimbursement amid illegal price gouging, and major retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and others hiking their prices as hospitalizations and infections reach record levels.”


Always Essential is a campaign of working people, activists, and organizations joining together to transform what’s possible for essential workers — especially those in low-wage sectors who are disproportionately Black and other workers of color.