In stores, for free: Lawmakers’ plan to address home COVID testing shortage

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:54 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:55 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - As the Omicron variant continues to surge through communities, it’s increasing demand for at-home COVID-19 tests.

On Wednesday in the Twin Ports, out of nine local pharmacies, only two had self-tests available.

This increased demand is why lawmakers like Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith are working to get tests back on shelves and available for free.

Smith recently proposed legislation requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of take-home tests.

While her plan was initially struck down, the Biden administration picked it up and is now putting it into place.

“Today we are seeing a demand for hundreds of millions of them every month, so they have taken good steps to increase production to use something called the Defense Production Act to get supplies flowing and get them out to the stores, and all of that is starting to make a big difference,” said Sen. Smith.

The self-tests can range from $10 to close to $40.

That price can be steep for some, but insurance companies will be required to pick up the tab starting this weekend.

“It will be up to eight tests per person, per month,” said Sen. Smith. “So, if you’re a family of four, that’s 32 tests you can have per month and that makes a big difference.”

It’s a big difference that can also impact the health and wallets of Americans.

As supply chain issues continue, state health leaders say if you have COVID symptoms but can’t find a test, you should mask up, stay home and don’t go to an emergency room unless it’s really an emergency.

Smith said the Biden administration will soon launch a website where you can get a COVID test shipped to your house free of charge.

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