Health care workers speak out about end of COVID-19 insurance program

METRO ATLANTA — A federal program that helps test and treat COVID-19 could be coming to an end.

It helps those without insurance get free COVID-19 treatment by charging the federal government instead of patients, but funding is set to run out on Tuesday.

“As devastating as COVID was, I saw how we came together as a community, and people were asking people to get help, to get testing, to get the vaccine, to get help,” Dr. Barbara Joy Jones said.

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Jones, who is a family physician with the Healthy Woman Primary Care, said it’s no secret COVID-19 was extremely tough for her and her other health care workers, but the fact that that government provided funding for people to get the care they needed helped so many patients, especially those without health insurance.

“The Uninsured Program is a program by the government, in which someone if they don’t have insurance, that the insurances have been very good with COVID and paying for things, in the hospital and an outpatient setting,” Jones said.

The Uninsured Program allowed hospitals and urgent cares to provide COVID-19 care for those who didn’t have insurance and bill the government for those costs, but on Tuesday that won’t be the case.

Recently, the White House released a statement to announce that on March 22, the COVID-19 Uninsured Program will no longer accept insurance claims, due to “lack of sufficient funds.”


That news forced health care workers across Atlanta to speak out. They are now demanding Congress allocate relief funds.

“It makes me feel really excited that these workers are coming together and saying this is not right. We need funding. We need what we need for COVID,” Jones said.

That way, they’ll be able to take care of those who need COVID-19 help the most.

Jones said funding this program is vital in metro Atlanta.

“At this point, without any funding, people, are going to be restricted in their abilities to do things if they are uninsured or not financially able to take care of the testing or get their booster,” Jones said.

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Health officials said that could bring another wave of COVID-19 cases to Georgia.

“It would likely mean that people wouldn’t pursue going to get help for COVID because it wouldn’t be covered,” Jones said.

The White House said it needs Congress to provide additional resources, including $22.5 billion in COVID-19 funding. Meanwhile, health care workers have started reaching out to senators and members of Congress, and they’re hoping voters will do the same.