Rep. Courtney Helps Introduce Two Bills to Protect Americans Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) helped introduce two new bills to help protect Americans amid the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. First, Courtney joined eighteen of his colleagues in introducing the No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act, which would ensure that all health insurance providers cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to patients. Second, Courtney and twelve of his colleagues introduced the Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act (H.R. 6187), which would protect students’ access to federally-supported school meals programs during school closures due to the Coronavirus epidemic.
“The ripple effects of COVID-19 will be felt across many sectors of American life, but there’s action we can take now to help improve our safety, prevent the spread of the virus, and to make sure that people are given the help they need while we work through this together,” said Congressman Courtney. “The bills we introduced today will help make eastern Connecticut safer by ensuring that folks have uninhibited access to quality testing, and will guarantee that kids in our communities who rely on federally subsidized school meals will still have access to those meals even if their schools have to be temporarily suspended. Our bills go straight to the heart of some of the most pressing concerns surrounding this epidemic, and I encourage my colleagues to waste no time in passing them.”
The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act
Despite the Trump administration’s announcement that COVID-19 testing will be fully covered for all patients under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the administration does not have the authority to enforce this requirement for a vast majority of plans. While states have taken steps to provide coverage for COVID-19, many insurers and plans have opted to only voluntarily cover these services. Without federal action, uniform coverage requirements across all health insurance payers will not exist.
The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act would create a uniform, federally required standard that all insurers cover the full cost of testing. Specifically, this legislation would mandate commercial payers selling individual or group health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, including ERISA plans and grandfathered plans, to cover all COVID-19 testing without patient cost-sharing – including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.
To read the bill text for the No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act, click here.
The Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act
Nearly 22 million children receive free or reduced-price lunches at their public schools. As of March 10, 621 schools across the U.S. have been closed or are scheduled to close, affecting more than 430,000 students and jeopardizing access to a critical source of nutrition for students across the country.
The Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act (H.R. 6187) waves the existing requirement that prevents the Department of Agriculture from approving state waiver requests that result in increased costs to the federal government.
To read the Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act bill text, click here.