The Trump administration issued policy guidance this week telling health insurance companies that they are not required by law to cover the Covid-19 tests employers may compel workers to undergo as a condition for returning to their jobs.
The announcement (pdf) Tuesday by the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services alarmed healthcare advocates and lawmakers who warned the move gives profitable insurers a green light to push the costs of potentially expensive coronavirus screenings onto workers.
But the Trump administration says in its guidance that the law only requires insurers to cover “medically appropriate” coronavirus screenings, not tests “conducted to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as employee ‘return to work’ programs).”
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) blasted the Trump administration’s interpretation of the law as a violation of congressional intent and “a free handout to the insurance industry.”
“Once again, the Trump administration is prioritizing corporate profits over people,” Pallone tweeted Wednesday. “I’m deeply concerned that this will disproportionately impact frontline workers.”
In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—a federal agency tasked with enforcing anti-discrimination laws—said employers are legally permitted to force employees to take Covid-19 viral tests to determine whether it is safe for them to return to the workplace.
New York, New Jersey, and other states currently require nursing homes to test employees to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in their facilities, which have been devastating hot-spots for the virus.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that some nursing homes say they can’t afford to pay for the testing and have tried to bill insurance companies for the costs. But not all insurance companies have agreed to cover Covid-19 testing, leaving workers on the hook for the bill.
More at the link above. Hugs