LeadingAge, AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and the American Health Care Association are among 49 organizations urging Congress to prioritize “robust” federal funding for COVID-19 testing in future pandemic relief legislation.

“Swift action is needed to ensure that every American, especially essential workers, frontline healthcare physicians and other clinicians and those at disproportionate risk for COVID-19 have access to vital COVID-19 testing, whether for diagnostic, occupational, return-to-school, public health or virus monitoring purposes,” the organizations told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)  in a recent letter.

Such testing will be necessary to meet the goal of “safely reopening the economy and returning to normal business” and should be made available regardless of individuals’ insurance coverage status or purpose for receiving the test, said the business and healthcare organizations signing the July 21 letter, which also included the Business Roundtable, the Healthcare Leadership Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Without such funding, and with demand increasing, Americans will only see a reduction in access to testing, as well disruptions in clinician, hospital, and laboratory payments, diminished public health surveillance capacity, and higher insurance premiums – all while millions of Americans begin to seek testing in exponential numbers to facilitate return to work, school and other normal activities,” they said. 

Funding as well as “clear coverage guidelines,” the groups said, “are critical for the scale and degree of testing that is needed to reopen, to reduce the risk of transmission, and to understand the progression of the disease and aid in development of better treatments and vaccines.”

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan, in reference to the letter, said: “If Congress wants to head off more catastrophe, the new legislation needs to put older adults and their care providers at the front of the line, right alongside hospitals, for life-saving resources like personal protective equipment and testing. It must include funding and support for aging services providers that ensure the health and safety of older adults.”