The Trump administration is considering whether to invoke the National Disaster Medical System reimbursement program, which would cover hospital and medical costs to treat uninsured patients infected with the novel coronavirus, according to the Wall Street Journal. In disaster situations, such as hurricanes, the program reimburses medical groups for treating uninsured patients in hard-hit zones, covering 110% of the standard Medicare rates.
Robert Kadlec, a Department of Health and Human Services official, said at a congressional hearing that the Trump administration is considering using the program as a means of helping the millions of Americans without health insurance. Around 27.5 million Americans lacked healthcare coverage at some point this year, which is around 8.5% of the country's total population.
The latest COVID-19 details
Over the past week, the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. grew to nine, while the number of confirmed cases in the country reached 118. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has refrained from classifying the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, the head of WHO did warn that the world is entering "uncharted territory" as they try to fight the virus.
There are a couple of possible COVID-19 drugs in clinical testing right now, Gilead Sciences' (NASDAQ:GILD) former Ebola treatment remdesivir and Moderna's (NASDAQ:MRNA) mRNA-based vaccine candidate. But it will likely be quite some time before either medicine is available to the public.