Sidney Poitier is famous for his landmark roles in movies that made an imprint on the fabric of society, and Sneakers (1992) is not one of them. But as the former CIA operative named Crease, he calls his spook colleagues to figure out who is behind the mysterious murder of a cryptologist who invented a code-breaking device, saying: “Don’t tell me you can’t do it because I know you can. And don’t tell me you won’t do it because I’ve got to have it. Damnit, I need to know. And I need to know now!” This seems to be the same attitude that everyone has about getting access to the always-in-short-supply rapid COVID-19 lab tests. On January 10, 2022, the Biden Administration announced that it is requiring health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests authorized by the FDA until the end of the Public Health Emergency. Setting aside whether it makes sense to require private insurance companies (instead of the federal government) to reimburse only privately insured people (Medicare beneficiaries can’t get reimbursed) for public health screening tests that may have reduced sensitivity for COVID-19 variants, our question — as health data-focused people — is how are we tracking these results? In former blog posts, we explained (as have others) the difficulty of tracking public health records even when public and private organizations are trying to do so. But with this policy, we are not even trying to track the lab results and no laboratory or doctor is involved — so we are trusting that when people test positive that they will follow CDC guidelines. In the underrated Sneakers movie, Sidney Poitier’s character decides to help despite his misgivings about his colleagues’ plan, saying “You guys will be chalk outlines without me. All right, what do we need?” In this case, we need proper public health tracking and monitoring.
January 14, 2022 | 4 min read
January 14, 2022
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