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Legislators press Baker to waive co-pays on coronavirus testing

A researcher worked in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Nutley, N.J.Kena Betancur/Gett

More than 60 Massachusetts lawmakers signed onto a letter Thursday urging Governor Charlie Baker to require Massachusetts health insurers to waive co-pays for coronavirus testing.

The 62 legislators, led by state senators Eric P. Lesser and Joanne M. Comerford and state Representative Mindy Domb, say in the letter that some patients around the country tested for the new COVID-19 virus have been “hit with large medical bills when they least expected it.”

They ask Baker to follow the lead of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who announced Monday that insurers and Medicaid in that state would be required to waive cost-sharing for coronavirus testing.

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"With more than 250 residents already in quarantine, Massachusetts must take every precaution necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Lesser said in a statement. “We are in the midst of a public health emergency, and our Commonwealth cannot allow insurance bills or costly deductibles to get in the way of essential testing necessary to stop the spread of this virus. Massachusetts must follow the lead of other states and waive insurance fees for coronavirus testing.”

In the letter, lawmakers also call on Baker to “outline a series of actions that Massachusetts health insurers are advised to take,” including informing residents about available benefits, providing medical advice through telecommunications, and preparing to cover the costs of immunization if a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure that cost and financial resources are not a barrier to any Massachusetts resident to get testing, care, and treatment, now and always,” Domb said in the statement. “COVID-19 compels us to ensure that our preparedness and response is inclusive, and that every Massachusetts resident is cared for.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him @jeremycfox.