Trump wants Obamacare to cover coronavirus testing even as he tries to repeal it


The administration is currently trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act through a court challenge.

The Trump administration plans to use a provision of Obamacare to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus — even as it works to repeal the health care law through a court challenge.

In order to ensure that people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 disease get tested without fear of receiving a surprise medical bill, the Trump administration is designating testing for the illness as an essential health benefit.

"With regard to the cost, let me be very clear: [The Department of Health and Human Services] has designated the coronavirus test as an essential health benefit," Mike Pence said at a briefing on the virus on March 4. "That means, by definition, it's covered in the private health insurance of every American, as well as covered by Medicare and Medicaid."

Pence again said on Tuesday that private insurers will cover COVID-19 disease testing so that people don't have to fear costs if they need to get a test.

Essential Health Benefits were created under Obamacare, officially called the Affordable Care Act.

They are "a set of 10 categories of services health insurance plans must cover," according to, and include services such as emergency care, cancer screenings, and pregnancy and newborn care.

Donald Trump, his administration, and GOP lawmakers have all condemned the benefits — and even tried to eliminate them back in 2017 with their failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

One main refrain from Republicans about why they wanted to scrap the benefits was that men shouldn't have to pay for maternity and prenatal coverage in their plans since they could not give birth.

The Trump administration is still trying to nix Obamacare, including essential health benefits, via a legal challenge that is now before the Supreme Court.

The challenge seeks to have the entire law invalidated, saying that because Republicans repealed the individual mandate part of the law — which is a main provision — the entire law is now bad.

Now, the Trump administration is claiming it will use the very law it's trying to repeal as part of their strategy to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Your daily reminder that: a. Trump is using a provision of the Affordable Care Act to require that insurers cover the Coronavirus test. b. Trump is in court right now trying to invalidate the entirety of the Affordable Care Act," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote on Facebook.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.