July 14, 2023

Senators Warren, Duckworth, Van Hollen, Blumenthal Call on Government Task Force to Adopt COVID-19 Testing as a Preventive Screening Tool

“We urge the USPSTF to issue such a recommendation for all COVID-19 tests, guaranteeing that insured patients will continue to receive these products without a co-pay.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), calling on Chair Michael Barry to recommend COVID-19 testing as a preventive screening tool, guaranteeing that insured patients will have access to testing with no charge and no co-pay.

After the suspension of the administration’s Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in May of this year, most private insurers’ requirement to cover COVID-19 testing without cost sharing ended. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover USPSTF-recommended preventive services without beneficiary cost-sharing.

“Although insurers can voluntarily cover COVID-19 testing if they choose, and the Biden-Harris Administration is encouraging them to do so, it is up to individual health insurance plans to make this determination, including whether or not to charge a co-pay,” wrote the lawmakers. 

Since the end of the public health emergency, many major insurers like Cigna and Aetna, have indicated that they will not be continuing to cover over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. In their letter, the lawmakers note that COVID-19 testing meets the USPSTF’s own guidelines and criteria for recommendation as a screening tool and called on the agency to prioritize its adoption.

“The USPSTF should follow its own guidelines … and recommend COVID-19 testing as a preventive service,” concluded the lawmakers.  “Given the need for these tests and the ample evidence supporting their value, we encourage you to evaluate and adopt COVID-19 testing as a recommended screening tool without delay.”

In addition to calling for this recommendation, the lawmakers are requesting information from USPSTF no later than July 31, 2023.

  • In April 2023, Senator Warren joined Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)  in sending a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the agency to continue providing Medicare coverage for rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests ahead of the end of the public health emergency on May 11.
  • In January 2022, Senator Warren joined Senator Stabenow (D-Mich.) in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chiquita Brooks-LaSure urging them to expand Medicare coverage of free at-home rapid COVID-19 testing.
  • In December 2020, Senators Warren and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) sent a letter to Alex Azar, then-Secretary of  HHS summarizing the findings from their investigation into the nation's testing capacity and the availability of pediatric testing and making recommendations for how the federal government can improve national testing infrastructure.
  • In August 2020, Senators Warren and Smith sent letters to several of the largest coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing laboratories – Quest Diagnostics, Mayo Clinic, Labcorps, BioReference, and ARUP Laboratories – regarding each company's capacity to process COVID-19 diagnostic tests and communicate results in a timely fashion
  • In March 2020, Senator Warren published a Medium post today in which she laid out several steps Congress should take to increase the supplies of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and the resources needed to administer them nationwide.