ST. CLOUD -- Healthcare providers are sounding the alarm that one day in the not-too-distant future, COVID-19 treatments and testing will no longer be free.

Minnesota lawmakers passed a bill to cover the costs associated with testing, vaccinations, and treatments for uninsured patients since the federal money ran out in April. But, the state help will end when the federal Public Health Emergency Declaration ends.

CentraCare's Dr. George Morris says they don't want out-of-pocket costs to scare people away from accessing their healthcare...

We will work with you. If you can't afford it, and we need a medical-grade test, we will either find some grant-based programs, some funding, our own resources, or work out a payment plan. But we have made that commitment that we don't want the expense of testing to be the barrier...at least at this time.  I can't make that promise forever.

Dr. Morris says the COVID-19 pandemic turned traditional healthcare upside down. But, as we learn to live with the virus things will ultimately go back to a more normal healthcare system...

You know, as we look at this as endemic and this is going to be here for a long time, we have to come to the understanding that traditional healthcare expenses will step into play.

A change in billing likely won't happen overnight. Dr. Morris says a 60-day notice is required to give healthcare providers, state and local health agencies, and the public a chance to adjust to the changes.

He's hoping state and federal lawmakers can address the funding gaps in the future to take the financial pressure off both the patient and the healthcare provider.

 

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