Let me be clear: No one should have to pay for coronavirus testing or treatment.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 28, 2020
By midnight EST today, one phase of COVID support will be ended in the United States. Specifically, the Heath Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund (CAF) will no longer accept claims due to a lack of sufficient funds. Free-to-the-receiver vaccines will only be until midnight on April 5th. This program was one of the very few attempts by the US to have the medical support normally expected in a developed country, and certainly didn’t last very long! Those with insurance will return to their standard level of care, and those without insurance or with terrible or useless insurance will be covering costs out of pocket, as is their standard level of care.
I’m not quite sure what I had expected the work-around for free healthcare in the US to be, but the details of the CAF was a surprise to me. Depending on the individual’s personal level of health insurance, the health care providers have to go through multiple and specific hoops to ensure that the “free” vaccine or healthcare went through the proper channel. It’s free for Medicare, so make sure you notate it this way for Medicare patients. It’s usually (!) free for Medicaid, but it’s up to the states discretion, and there are exceptions. Bog-standard insurances are required to reimburse the providers. Those without insurance go through a specific claims process, which is also different from those who are underinsured. I had forgotten how much I hate the American health care system, and had foolishly thought that it was just free and easy.
Sadly, it seems that even mediocre things must come to an end, and the budget for this kind of humane support was not approved by Congress. The White House has put out an official statement (blunter than I expected) about the effects of this program ending. Among other things, this cuts off funding for preventative measures, additional vaccine research, and global outreach. The congressional failure is, naturally, laid at the feet of Republicans, but I have yet to find any specific politicians involved in this de-funding. It looks like Representative DeLauro sponsored a funding extension in the House, but she is on the Committee on Appropriations, so it’s not a surprise that she’s the sponsor on an appropriations act (looking at her profile on the House website, it looks like her most recent vote was ‘yes’ for the CROWN Act in support of natural hair, which is also nice to see).
I am frustrated. We are working on Year Three of a global pandemic, a new variant is starting its world tour, and one of the very, very, very few things the US government did right is being overturned. It reminds me to be thankful that Abe’s entire social circle is me and a few animals, and mine is the insular world of a small university department in a small island country. If nothing else, it limits our exposure. I can do very little except try to keep my household together, and rage at the narrowminded selfishness of those with the power to actually make the world better.
Abe here – if you like the contents of this blog, please share it around! If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider funding my budding career as a professional hermit. It’s especially important right now, as my immigration status prohibits me from seeking any kind of normal job. Every little bit helps, even if it’s as little as $1 per month. It’s not cheap to train birds to nest in my beard.