You are here

COVID-19 Update

March 29, 2022 COVID-19 Update

Congress is at an impasse over further COVID 19 funding. One casualty is the federal fund administered by HRSA to reimburse providers for testing, treating & vaccinating the uninsured that stopped accepting claims on March 22 for testing and treatment and will stop on April 5 for vaccine administration.

Hot off the presses: Despite no added funds to increase the vaccine stockpile and lagging vaccination rates,  the FDA today authorized a 4th booster for those 50 and over

All MassHealth beneficiaries are covered for free COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccine administration, but what does the federal funding impasse mean for uninsured Massachusetts residents?

COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccines are still available at no cost to uninsured people from all COVID-19 vaccine providers. Uninsured people cannot be turned away or assessed a fee even though the federal fund will no longer pay for the costs of vaccine administration.  Vaccines are still free, safe and available. Locations are shown on the vax finder. https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine

COVID-19 Testing

Testing is still available at no cost from various locations including state-supported Stop the Spread sites, but on April 1, 2022 the state is reducing the number of Stop the Spread test sites. Citing lack of demand and the wide availability of free at-home test kits, the state is going from 41 sites in 28 cities and towns to 11 sites in 9 cities. For the uninsured or underinsured, the  test site locator can search for any location where testing is free. https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-testing

All households  can obtain two sets of four free at home test kits directly from the federal government and from many other organizations distributing free test kits including community health centers, schools, nursing homes and local boards of health.  

Uninsured people who are eligible for the Health Safety Net can obtain testing at no cost from hospitals and community health centers including up to 8 at-home test kits per person per month from hospital or CHC pharmacies.  MassHealth All Provider Bulletin 337 (Jan. 2022)

Uninsured people who are eligible for the Health Safety Net and MassHealth Limited can obtain at no cost COVID 19 testing including up to 8 at-home test kits per person per month from any pharmacy that accepts MassHealth.

COVID-19 Treatment

Uninsured people who are eligible for full Health Safety Net (income of 150% FPL or less) can obtain COVID-19 treatment from hospitals and community health centers at no cost. (We are waiting for updated guidance from the state on whether this is also true for those eligible for partial Health Safety Net with income of 150-300% FPL who ordinarily have a deductible).

Uninsured people with Health Safety Net and MassHealth Limited can obtain COVID-19 treatment with MassHealth Limited from additional health care providers not just hospitals and community health centers at no cost. MassHealth All Provider Bulletin 319 (June 2021)

The federal government has purchased certain COVID 19 treatment medications available at no cost to patients who test positive and are prescribed the medication from a participating location (Test and Treat)

To read more about it from the Massachusetts perspective --

Cuts to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination worry health care leaders, Kay Lazar, Boston Globe, Mar 26, 2022

 To read more about it from the national perspective --

Implications of the Lapse in Federal COVID-19 Funding on Access to COVID-19 Testing, Treatment, and Vaccines  KFF Issue Brief, Mar 28, 2022