Federal COVID-19 relief money set to expire in early 2023; CVS to offer Paxlovid

Cost concerns for COVID-19 testing, treatment
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 7:52 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Federal COVID-19 money for relief programs is set to run out in early 2023.

Between testing, treatment, and vaccines, the costs for people could add up quickly, especially if parts aren’t covered by insurance.

Department of Health and Human Services officials say they have been meeting with state and local leaders to figure out the easiest transition to commercial suppliers for everything related to COVID-19.

Ahead of the change, the government has ordered more than 170 million vaccine doses from Moderna and Pfizer. The goal is to get people vaccinated and boosted ahead of a potential winter surge.

KOLD News 13 asked Pima County Health Department officials if they have a plan for when the money runs out.

“The Pima County Health Department is providing access to free COVID-19 vaccination, testing (including at-home test kit distribution), and evaluation and prescribing of oral medication for treatment,” PCHD public information officer Anthony Gimino said. “We’ll be able to talk more about a response to decisions at the federal level when they happen. Anything right now is speculative.”

Free COVID-19 testing hours at the health department have been extended all week for those who are looking to get tested or pick up some at-home testing kits.

Health officials have also launched a new mobile clinic service, which begins Friday, Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, COVID treatment is still covered by the government and available for people in southern Arizona.

CVS pharmacists can now prescribe Paxlovid, an antiviral pill for some diagnosed with COVID-19.

Getting the treatment can run as high as $60, but it can be less expensive or even free.

The $60 is for what’s called a clinical assessment fee.

That’s what the health providers will charge to see if you’re eligible for Paxlovid and you’ll still have to pay it even if you can’t get the treatment.

There are other options when it comes to treatment.

“Patients are encouraged to check with their health insurance or their prescription drug benefit plan to see if this is something that will be covered for them. Otherwise the assessment can be covered or paid ... by the HSA for FSA card,” CVS Pharmacy Manager Amy LaGesse said. “And then the actual Paxlovid treatment if prescribed is free, there’s no charge for that.”

To see if you’re eligible for Paxlovid, you can click here.