Cleveland-area health organizations could see less federal money for free COVID-19 services | Health

The White House has said it may have to cut free COVID-19 services for people who don’t have health insurance — one of the impacts of Congress not adding $22.5 billion to a project government spending bill for COVID-19 funds this week.

The federal program pays for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination for people without health insurance.

Cuyahoga and Summit county health board officials said they will continue to offer some free services, but federal funding is still needed.

The pandemic is not over and now is not the time to withdraw funds, said Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan. Public health agencies should prepare for a potential next wave if another variant hits the United States, he said.

“Right now, with this lull, we have to fix the roof while the sun is shining,” he said.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health will continue to provide free services to those who cannot afford them, but Allan fears costs are still a barrier for people.

“I think recognizing that the system we have in place to deliver the vaccine and make it widely available is to ensure that everyone has the same access to vaccines and life-saving medicines that many people who have private insurance can. have access and don’t think I think that’s how the public health system is supposed to work.

While Summit County will continue to offer free services to those who can’t pay, private doctors and pharmacies may start charging for vaccines or tests, county health commissioner Donna Skoda said. This may mean that fewer people are getting vaccinated.

“A lot of people don’t know what insurance coverage they have, a lot of people don’t understand their insurance coverage, and so that could be a barrier,” she said.

This will have the greatest effect on people of color, low-income people and the uninsured, who are often at higher risk of serious COVID-19 infection, Allan said.

“People of color who are low-income already face a combined series of disadvantages and that would only exacerbate that,” Allan said.

Democrats in Congress say they will try to pass a standalone COVID-19 funding bill in the coming days, but Republicans oppose the plan, according to NPR information. That would mean the measure won’t overcome a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

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