Press Release

Castor, Murphy, Shalala Urge DeSantis: Implement the Free Coronavirus Testing Congress Provided to Protect our Uninsured Neighbors

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Washington, April 21, 2020 | comments

Today, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (FL14), Stephanie Murphy (FL07) and Donna Shalala (FL27) wrote Governor Ron DeSantis urging him to implement the free coronavirus testing that Congress provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which was signed into law on March 18, 2020. This law authorized governors to amend state Medicaid plans to cover COVID-19 testing and testing-related services for uninsured individuals, with the federal government paying 100 percent of the cost.

“Over a month has elapsed since passage of this law, and we are not aware of any steps you have taken to use the power that Congress granted you in order to bring Florida taxpayer dollars back to serve the community. As a result, some or all of Florida’s 2.7 million uninsured residents are not, in fact, able to obtain free COVID-19 testing. Many of these individuals may be forced to forego testing because they cannot afford to do so. This outcome poses a direct threat to their own health and to the health of all Floridians,” the Members wrote.

The letter is available here and below:

April 21, 2020

Honorable Ron DeSantis

Governor

State of Florida

The Capitol

Tallahassee, Florida 32301

RE: Implement Free Coronavirus Testing in Florida as Congress Provided, Protect the Uninsured

Dear Governor DeSantis:

We write as members of the Florida congressional delegation serving on the three House

committees with jurisdiction over health—Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and

Education and Labor. In the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted with

overwhelming bipartisan support on March 18, 2020, Congress provided a pathway for governors

to ensure free COVID-19 testing for uninsured Americans living in their states. Specifically, we

authorized governors to amend their state Medicaid plans to cover COVID-19 testing and testing related

services for uninsured individuals, with the federal government paying 100 percent of the

cost.

Over a month has elapsed since passage of this law, and we are not aware of any steps you

have taken to use the power that Congress granted you in order to bring Florida taxpayer dollars

back to serve the community. As a result, some or all of Florida’s 2.7 million uninsured residents

are not, in fact, able to obtain free COVID-19 testing. Many of these individuals may be forced to

forego testing because they cannot afford to do so. This outcome poses a direct threat to their own

health and to the health of all Floridians. Additionally, health providers are already under

substantial financial pressure due to the COVID-19 crisis, and they should not have to count testing

costs for the uninsured as charity care when there is a 100 percent federal match available.

We cannot understand why you would not use this power, when the cost to Florida is

nothing and the consequences for public safety in the state are so severe. We are especially

bewildered by your inaction in light of the fact that the governor of Texas, another state that has

resisted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, does intend to use his power to

temporarily expand Medicaid for this specific purpose only.

Without widespread testing, we will not be able to effectively combat COVID-19 or to reopen

Florida’s economy in a safe and scientifically-sound way, as we all wish to do. We urge you

to use the power that Congress gave you, or to explain to Floridians why you won’t do so.

Sincerely,
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