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Pharmacists, insurers worried about federal free at-home test program

10 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, January 11 2022 Jan 11, 2022 January 11, 2022 7:12 PM January 11, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A new federal policy means health insurance-holders will be able to buy at-home tests online or in stores and have them paid for or get reimbursed later with a claim.

The new policy is in effect, but if policyholders think they will be able to walk into a pharmacy next week and get their hands on a free test, it might not happen.

“The lack of tests is not just indicative to Louisiana. It's happening all over the nation,” Mayor-President Sharon Westin Broome said at a press conference last week.

Tests are still in very short supply. Most pharmacies have not been able to get any at all.

One pharmacist told WBRZ the situation will be chaotic, to say the least.

“They’re leading people to believe that after 1/15, they can just show up at a pharmacy and get a free test, but it’s obviously not going to work like that. We can’t get them,” TJ Woodard of Prescriptions To Geaux said.

It's the same at the state level, as the mayor highlighted in her press conference last week.

"LDH has been a superpartner in all of this, and so whenever they have access to tests, they immediately reach out to us here in EBR Parish, so they're doing our best to help supply us with the tests,” she said.

Insurers will be required to pay for up to eight tests per person per month, which Woodard says is impossible right now.

“Bergen is a top-three wholesaler in the country. I can’t order a single test from them. I’m not sure where we’re supposed to get eight tests per person per month.”

In a statement today, the area’s largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield president Kim Keck said they are on board with the idea of free tests but do not know if the plan is feasible.

"We are concerned that the policy does not solve for the limited supply of tests in the country and could cause additional consumer friction," Keck said.

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