‘No surprise billing’: Pence says insurance companies will waive copays for coronavirus testing

As the deadly disease known as COVID-19 begins affecting the economy and daily life in America, Vice President Mike Pence has a message: Help is on the way.

Health insurance companies are willing to waive copays for coronavirus tests, Mike Pence assured the American people Tuesday at a meeting with insurers and President Donald Trump, according to Breitbart. The promise comes as the president weighs an economic stimulus package to help workers impacted by the spread of the disease.

“I’m pleased to report that as you requested, Mr. President, that all the insurance companies here, either today, or before today, have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing, and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans,” Pence said, according to The Hill.

“No surprise billing”

The Trump administration has been criticized by some for a sluggish or inadequate response to the spread of the disease, including a delay in providing testing kits. To close that gap, the Trump administration enlisted the help of private laboratories to develop their own COVID-19 tests, something Pence previously hailed as a sign of progress.

In the latest sign of public–private cooperation, Pence said that numerous companies at a White House meeting Tuesday, including UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, Aetna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, had all committed to joining Medicare and Medicaid in providing copay free testing, The Hill reported. The vice president assured Americans that there would be “no surprise billing” and that free telemedicine will also be made available.

Pence reaffirmed his promise at a press conference Tuesday night, where he expressed President Donald Trump’s wish that no American fear taking a test for financial reasons. He also said Trump is working on a plan to make sure that no American misses a paycheck in case they get sick.

“I know I speak for President Trump when I say how grateful we are to see our health insurance industry step forward to meet this need so that no American should be concerned about being able to pay for or afford the cost of a coronavirus test if they deem and their doctor deems it to be appropriate and necessary,” Pence said, according to a transcript provided by Rev.com.

The race to respond

The coronavirus has taken a toll on the global economy as disruptions to both work and trade, and anxiety about the future, interrupt business all over the world. The president, for his part, has promised “dramatic” plans to mitigate the economic impact, according to the New York Post, but he did not show up to Tuesday night’s press conference after a meeting with Senate Republicans.

Instead, Pence and other top officials said on Trump’s behalf that the White House is zeroing in on a payroll tax holiday for the rest of the year, a proposition Democrats have slammed as a corporate giveaway. Other possibilities include paid family leave or sick leave.

“The president’s absolutely adamant [about] working with the Congress or using his executive authority to ensure that hourly workers, people working for small- or medium-sized businesses that don’t currently have paid family leave, will be able to stay home and be confident that they’re not losing a paycheck,” Pence said, according to Rev.com. “I think every American can identify with that concern.”

A test for Trump

The ramped-up response comes as cases of COVID-19 continued to surface around the country, promising further disruptions to work, travel, and daily life for untold numbers of Americans. There are now over 1,000 cases and over two dozen Americans have perished, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday, CNBC reported.

Indeed, with cases cropping up practically every day in states all across the country, the president is facing one of the biggest tests of his presidency. And as they look to November, voters will certainly be watching.

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