White House says federal Covid-19 funding has run out

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 7:03 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The White House says Covid-19 funding is running out. That could mean no more free testing, vaccination or treatment sites. The White House said the fund that reimburses doctors and other medical providers for caring for uninsured individuals was scaled back on March 22. It will end completely in early April.

Providers will no longer be able to submit claims for providing these services to uninsured patients, forcing them to either absorb the cost or turn away people who are uninsured.

StarMed healthcare says it will continue to provide free Covid-19 testing, monoclonal antibody treatment and vaccination through the end of March despite the stop in federal funding.

“What we need to actually be very concerned about here is, if we don’t have the access to treatments, if people cannot afford to get these treatments, what are they going to do? They’re gonna end up in the hospital,” said StarMed Chief Medical Officer Dr. Arin Pirmazadian.

Economists say gas, the Ukraine conflict and inflation may cause Congress to move COVID-19 treatment lower on its priority list. Experts also say more data will be needed for a change of heart in Congress.

“I think number one, see what’s the gap between the predicted need and the actual funding level especially from the uninsured population and some other public health type of need,” said East Carolina University’s Economics Department Chair Haiyong Liu.

Piramzadian predicts stealth Omicron will take root in the U.S. like it has overseas, and fears what challenges lie ahead without government funding.

“Now the hospitals are going to get very full because people are going to wait till the last possible minute to get there when they’re extremely ill. So even though it may not be as deadly, the sheer volume of people that may get sick and the lack of access to healthcare is what’s going to cause people to die.”

The White House says the loss of funding will reduce the ability to perform monoclonal antibody treatments, limiting the supply by more than 30 percent.

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