WASHINGTON – America’s leading doctors, nurses, clinicians, hospitals, health insurance providers, biopharmaceutical companies and employers are committed to working together in this unprecedented time to ensure every American can access the care they need and deserve.  As we work to defeat and overcome COVID-19, hospitals and health care providers are working together to expand their capacity to test for and treat COVID-19 by converting places like hotels into care facilities and are changing how and where they treat non-COVID-19 patients to ensure everyone who is sick can safely access the care they need.

Hospitals, Health Care Providers And The Federal Government Are Working Together To Creatively Expand Access To Care And Ensure All Patients Can Safely Access The Health Care They Need:

The FDA Is Providing New Guidelines For Companies To Develop And Market COVID-19 Home Testing Kits. “In a move that could significantly expand the nation’s testing capacity, the Food and Drug Administration has posted new guidelines that could pave the way for millions of people to test themselves for the coronavirus at home.  The guidelines allow companies to develop and market testing kits with the tools to swab their noses and mail the specimens to any lab in the country.” (Andrew Jacobs, “F.D.A. Paves Way For Home Testing Of Coronavirus,” The New York Times, 5/7/20)

Tech Firms Are Helping Local Governments Meet COVID-19 Testing Needs. “As more and more cities look to automate the coronavirus testing process, tech companies are working together to ensure that people can use an app or website to schedule tests instead of waiting in a potentially dangerous line.  Why it matters: Many testing locations remain overwhelmed by demand, but some are still underused.  More efficient coordination could help make better use of the resources we have.” (Ina Fried, “Tech Firms Help Local Governments Meet Coronavirus Testing Needs,” Axios, 5/8/20)

Puritan Medical Products Is Working With The Pentagon To Ramp Up Production Of COVID-19 Testing Swabs. “’Puritan Medical Products was awarded the contract, which will quickly establish a new manufacturing facility capable of doubling its current monthly output of 20 million to 40 million swabs,’ Andrews said.” (Staff, “Pentagon Spending Over $75 Million To Ramp Up Production Of Coronavirus Testing Swabs,” WTTG FOX, 4/30/20)

Stanford Health Care Created A Clinic For COVID-19 Patients. “A new clinic provides specialized care for patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus but don’t need to be in the hospital.  The clinic is isolated from other patient care areas to protect those who aren’t infected.  A new Stanford Health Care clinic for COVID-19 patients, isolated from other clinics to avoid spreading the disease, offers specialized care for patients riding out the illness at home.” (Mandy Erickson, “Stanford Health Care Creates Clinic For COVID-19 Patients,” Stanford University, 4/27/20)

After The Food And Drug Administration Granted An Emergency-Use Authorization To A Lab From Rutgers University, The Tests Have Been Offered At A Walk-Up Site In New Brunswick, And Drive-Throughs In Somerset And Edison, New Jersey. “The Rutgers lab has already processed almost 90,000 tests, and the lab’s head, Andrew Brooks, told the New York Times that it expects to be able to conduct as many as 30,000 per day.” (Matt Stieb, “How A Saliva-Based Test Could Transform Coronavirus Diagnoses,” New York Magazine, 4/29/20)

The Mayo Clinic Has Significantly Expanded Its Capacity To Test For COVID-19. “The expanded capacity is made possible by three high-throughput diagnostic processors from Roche Diagnostics, running the Roche cobas® SARS-CoV-2 Test. These instruments are in operation at Mayo Clinic’s Superior Drive Support Center in Rochester. This test processing capability is in addition to the COVID-19 testing developed by Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Virology Laboratory. Announced last week, that test process is available for the Mayo Clinic practice.” (Jay Furst, “Mayo Clinic Laboratories Significantly Expands Testing Capability For The COVID-19 Virus,” Mayo Clinic, 3/19/20)

HCA Healthcare Discusses Innovative Efforts To Expand ICU Capacity. “HCA Healthcare has now developed a calculator for use in all of our hospitals. The calculator uses such variables as CDC estimates about transmissibility of the disease, the average daily patient population under normal circumstances, the population of the area surrounding the hospital, the current speed of transmissibility (are we on an Italy trajectory, a South Korea trajectory, etc.) and the current level of mitigation taken in a jurisdiction (social distancing, closure of bars/restaurants, shelter in place, etc.).” (Dr. Michael Schlosser, MD, “HCA Healthcare Discusses Innovative Efforts To Expand ICU Capacity,” HCA Healthcare, 3/31/20) 

IDEXX Is Partnering With Maine To More Than Triple The State’s Testing Capacity. “Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration has secured a major expansion of COVID-19 testing for the State of Maine.  The Administration has partnered with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. to purchase enough of the company’s recently authorized COVID-19 testing kits to more than triple the State’s testing capacity.  The breakthrough will soon allow anyone in Maine suspected of having COVID-19 to receive a test.” (Governor Janet T. Mills, “Mills Administration Secures Major COVID-19 Testing Expansion For Maine,” Press Release, 5/7/20)

Medicare And Medicaid Patients Get Temporary Access To Telemedicine Amid COVID-19 Crisis. “’During the public health emergencies, individuals can use interactive apps with audio and video capabilities to visit with their clinician for an even broader range of services,’ CMS said in a statement. ‘Providers also can evaluate beneficiaries who have audio phones only.’” (Lauren Lantry, “Medicare And Medicaid Patients Get Temporary Access To Telemedicine Amid Coronavirus Crisis, But Challenges Remain,” ABC News, 4/1/20) 

The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services Has Issued New Temporary Rules That Will Allow Hospitals To Expand Their Capacity During The COVID-19 Crisis. “These new flexibilities are designed to allow health care workers to treat more patients than the system is built for, and to help separate patients with the coronavirus from those without it. The rules allow facilities ranging from ambulatory surgical centers to convention centers to be repurposed to respond to the pandemic.” (Caitlin Owens, “CMS Gives Hospitals Huge New Flexibilities,” Axios, 3/31/20)

Over 100 Live-Event Companies Pivoted To Building Temporary COVID-19 Hospitals And Testing Sites. “Live for Life, a consortium of over 100 companies in the space, is more than just an on-the-fly response to the pandemic. The group has rapidly united competitors, who normally handle events ranging from festivals to automotive conferences. Now they have come together to build temporary hospitals and drive-thru testing centers, supporting nationwide efforts in combating the disease while keeping as many people employed as possible.” (Dan Reilly, “How Over 100 Live-Event Companies Pivoted To Building Temporary Coronavirus Hospitals And Testing Sites,” Fortune, 4/21/20)

CVS Is Opening Over 50 COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Sites. “As it works to address the pandemic with testing, CVS Health plans to open over 50 COVID-19 testing sites at designated CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations throughout Connecticut, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.” (Staff, “CVS To Open 50+ COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Sites,” PYMNTS, 5/14/20)

Kroger Is Expanding COVID-19 Testing For Employees With Free Self-Administered Kits & Drive-Thru Appointments. “Kroger said it will help connect employees to free Covid-19 testing, if they have symptoms or qualify based on medical need.  Employees will either get a self-administered test kit or an appointment at one of the company-run drive-thru locations.” (Melissa Repko, “Kroger Expands Coronavirus Testing For Employees With Free Self-Administered Kits, Drive-Thru Appointments,” CNBC, 5/4/20)

Walmart To Run More Than 20 COVID-19 Test Sites In 10 States By The End Of April. “Walmart plans to have more than 20 coronavirus testing sites operating in at least 10 states by the end of April, the company told Business Insider on Monday. The retailer has been working with the federal government to set up drive-thru testing sites in its parking lots. The first two sites opened in the Chicago area on March 22.” (Hayley Peterson, “Walmart Says It Will Be Running More Than 20 Coronavirus Test Sites In 10 States By The End Of April,” Business Insider, 4/13/20)

  • Walmart Is Staffing COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Units. “Walmart Public Affairs Director for Georgia Glen Wilkins said the company is ‘committed to supporting the state of Georgia’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing, especially in communities that have had limited access to testing.’  He added, ‘We are grateful to our pharmacists and associates who are supporting these testing sites, and to [clinical service network] eTrueNorth and local officials as we work together to open sites that will help Georgians access timely testing.’” (Cortney Moore, “Walmart Staffs Coronavirus Drive-Thru Testing Unit In Georgia,” FOX Business, 4/26/20)

Walgreens Is Opening 15 Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Sites In Seven States. “Walgreens said Tuesday that it plans to open 15 drive-thru testing locations for the coronavirus across seven states, starting later this week. The sites will be in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, the drugstore chain said in a news release. They will use Abbott Laboratories’ rapid COVID-19 test.” (Melissa Repko, “Walgreens To Open 15 Drive-Thru Testing Sites For The Coronavirus Across 7 States,” CNBC, 4/7/20)

Indiana Will Partner With OptumServe Health Services To Launch 20 COVID-19 Testing Sites Across The State Over The Next Week And An Additional 30 Sites By Mid-May. “In an effort to expand greatly the state’s capacity to screen for the coronavirus, Indiana will partner with OptumServe Health Services to launch 20 testing sites across the state over the next week and an additional 30 sites by mid-May, the state announced Tuesday.” (Shari Rudavsky, “Indiana To Open 50 Coronavirus Test Sites In Hope Of Adding 30K Tests A Week,” Indianapolis Star, 4/28/20)

New York City Clinics Are Set To Start “Self-Swab” COVID-19 Tests. “New York City-run health clinics will soon take a new tack on coronavirus testing, using a procedure that lets people collect samples themselves at a health care worker’s direction, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.  He said the ‘self-swab’ tests would allow for more and easier testing and make it safer for test-seekers and health care workers alike.” (Staff, “NYC Clinics Set To Start ‘Self-Swab’ Coronavirus Tests,” The Associated Press, 4/27/20)

Centene Is Collaborating With Quest Diagnostics To Increase Access To Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) COVID-19 Testing In Critical Areas Of Need Across The Country.   Through This Collaboration, Centene Will Facilitate The Distribution Of 25,000 Quest COVID-19 Test Kits Each Week To Federally Qualified Health Centers In Ten States Or Districts Across The Country. (Centene Corporation, “Centene And Quest Diagnostics Team Up To Increase Access To COVID-19 Testing,” Press Release, 4/29/20)

Peach State Health Plan Is Collaborating With Quest Diagnostics To Increase Access To Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) COVID-19 Testing In Critical Areas Of Need Georgia.  Through This Collaboration, Peach State Health Plan Will Facilitate The Distribution Of Approximately 1,000 Quest COVID-19 Test Kits Each Week To Federally Qualified Health Centers. (Peach State Health Plan, “Peach State Health Plan And Quest Diagnostics Team Up To Increase Access To COVID-19 Testing In Underserved Communities,” Press Release, 5/8/20)

Health Insurers Are Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19 By:

  • Establishing A Physical Presence In Communities Of Color. “This Presence May Be At A Service Center Or Retail Site To Allow Members To Walk In For Services And Educational Resources.  Services May Include Providing COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing, As Well As Connecting People With Other Needed Services (E.G., Housing, Food And Financial Assistance).” (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)
  • Conducting Proactive Outreach Using Tailored Messaging To Raise Awareness. “Information Often Includes Resources About How Best To Protect Themselves, Their Families And Communities Based On The Latest Information From The CDC And Other Credible Sources.” (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)
  • Promoting Awareness Of Telehealth And Other Safe Ways To Access Health Care Services That May Be Available To Them Without Seeking In-Person Care – Reducing Their Own Risk Of Infection. (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)
  • Helping To Bridge Economic Gaps, Providing Information Such As Grace Periods For Premium Payments That May Be Available To Them. (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)
  • Targeting Interventions To Improve Care And Outcomes, Leveraging Health Insurance Provider Data And Sharing It With Public And Private Partners As They Work Together To Create Solutions. (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)
  • Connecting People With Community Resources To Assist With Critical Needs Such As Housing, Food And Financial Assistance. (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)
  • Making Financial Contributions To Organizations That Are Well-Positioned To Meet The Growing Needs Of People Who May Need Access To Food And Other Services. (“Improving Access To Care For Communities Of Color During COVID-19,” AHIP, 4/28/20)

Health Insurers Are Improving Access To Care For Rural Communities During COVID-19 By:

  • Expanding And Encouraging Telehealth.  “By Waiving Cost-Sharing For Telehealth Services And Expanding Programs, Insurance Providers Are Facilitating Care For Many Americans At An Essential Time.  Telehealth Is Especially Beneficial For Patients Who Are At A Higher Risk Of Infection When Leaving Home To Commute To A Doctor’s Office.  Telehealth Is Also A Convenient Way To Access Care That Otherwise May Be Far Away In Some Rural Communities.  For Doctors, Expanded Telehealth Eases The Burden On The Health System, Allowing Hospitals To Care For People Who Need It Most, While Limiting The Exposure Of Health Care Workers To The Disease.” (“Improving Access To Care For Rural Communities During COVID-19,” AHIP, Accessed 5/12/20)
  • Strengthening Provider Capacity.  “Insurance Providers Are Partnering With Hospitals To Enhance Their Capacity To Provide Care For The Most Vulnerable Patients In The Most Affected And At-Risk Regions So They Can More Effectively Manage An Increasingly Complex And Uncertain Environment.  By Simplifying And Accelerating Discharge And Transfer Of Patients From Hospitals To The Safest Available, Clinically Appropriate Post-Acute Care Facility Or Home, Insurance Providers Are Making Sure Hospital Resources Are Available To Those Who Need Them Most.” (“Improving Access To Care For Rural Communities During COVID-19,” AHIP, Accessed 5/12/20)
  • Delivering Support For Vulnerable Populations.  “Across The Country, Health Insurance Providers Are Delivering Support To Rural Communities To Ensure That Vulnerable Populations Stay Safe And Healthy.  Individual Companies Have Made Financial Contributions Directly To Community Organizations, Including Those Working To Feed Children And Older Americans, For Example. (“Improving Access To Care For Rural Communities During COVID-19,” AHIP, Accessed 5/12/20) 
  • Supporting Doctors And Hospitals.  “The COVID-19 Crisis Has Had A Severe Financial Impact On Providers Across The Country.  Health Insurance Providers Have Stepped In To Offer Financial Assistance To Providers That Need It Via Relief Funds And Direct Donations.  Several Health Insurance Providers Are Building New Pathways To Support The Most Financially Vulnerable Hospitals Through The Crisis, Including Those In Rural Areas.” (“Improving Access To Care For Rural Communities During COVID-19,” AHIP, Accessed 5/12/20)