The White House has warned that starting Tuesday, it will phase out a COVID-19 program that reimburses doctors and medical providers the cost of testing, treating and vaccinating the uninsured.
According to NBC News, the arrangement is set to end in early April - the result of a lack of federal government funding after Democrats and Republicans in Congress were unable to agree on an additional $22.5 billion in budget allocation that the White House had requested for COVID-19 relief.
Local providers have grave concerns about the consequences.
Free COVID-19 vaccinations are administered every day at the Campbell Pharmacy in Dallas.
Friday alone, at least 50 people came in for COVID-19 vaccines.
"We have people coming in for their first vaccine so what are we telling them? 'Sorry about your second? Sorry, about your third? Sorry about keeping you safe now just because you waited a long time?' That's not right," said lead clinical pharmacist Dawn Moshier.
She and other medical providers fear the move will make it less likely for someone to get a COVID-19 shot or treatment if that person has to pay for it out of pocket.
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"If we don't do these vaccines, what's going to happen? Are we can go back to where we were before, where it gets bad again?"
Their other issue with the warning is the timing.
Providers are now scrambling to file claims from the onslaught of COVID-19 testing they did during the omicron surge by next Tuesday's deadline.
"It would have made much more sense for them to give us months to get prepared or even a month, but six days has been seemingly absurd," said Dr. Carrie de Moor, an emergency medicine physician in Frisco.
"We all knew that we were going to get to a point where this funding couldn’t be in perpetuity but giving only a week’s notice to providers and healthcare facilities that this was running out wasn’t enough time to prevent that from impacting the provider and hospitals. It was not enough time to get that information out to patients so that they know what to do and have an alternative plan when this happens," said de Moor.
The Uninsured Program will stop accepting claims for COVID-19 testing and treatment on March 22, 2022 due to lack of sufficient funds.
The Health Resources and Services Administration will stop accepting claims for COVID-19 vaccinations on April 5, 2022.