Tester Introduces Bills to Guarantee COVID-19 Testing Is Free & Boost Support for Unemployed Montanans

Senator: “No Montanan should have to pay for COVID-19 testing—period.”

In the face of the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced legislation to guarantee tests to confirm infections will be free, as well as to open up emergency Unemployment Insurance funds to replace wages lost by Montanans who have been affected by the outbreak.

“No Montanan should have to pay for COVID-19 testing-period,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m backing legislation to waive the costs for getting tested, regardless of whether you’re on Medicare, on private insurance, or not insured at all.”

The Tester-backed Free COVID-19 Testing Act would waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services for individuals enrolled in private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as for federal civilians, American Indians and Alaska Natives. Private insurers would be barred from imposing restrictions like prior authorization that may delay patients’ access to testing. For uninsured individuals, this legislation would cover the cost of lab fees, and states would have the option and new incentives to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services through their Medicaid programs.

“I’ve also introduced legislation to provide temporary unemployment assistance to folks who lose their jobs or can’t work because of the outbreak,” Tester continued. “We need to be ready to provide support to Montanans struggling to make ends meet in the face of this illness.”

Tester’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act would create a temporary unemployment assistance program for Americans whose job status has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in order to directly support those most impacted. It would provide workers who lose their paychecks-whether because of their own health status, a quarantine, or a school closure that leaves them without childcare-with access to unemployment benefits to help them make ends meet until they’re back at work.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester has led the charge on pushing the Trump Administration to make sure that vulnerable Montanans-in particular, seniors, folks with disabilities, and direct care providers-have access to information about test kits, proper protection, and the outbreak of COVID-19. He is also working to extend the IRS tax filing deadline, and has doubled down on his efforts to press the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Indian Health Service to provide veterans, VA healthcare staff, and Tribes with access to proper resources and information.