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President Biden speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal government will issue guidance to allow people with private health insurance to seek reimbursement for the cost of at-home COVID tests, President Biden will announce Thursday.

Why it matters: The move — which comes amid growing concern about the Omicron variant and as part of the administration's larger strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID this winter — will expand access to at-home testing for over 150 million people.

Details: The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury are going through the rule-making process to determine how exactly it will work, one senior administration official said.

  • People who don't have private insurance are not covered by this action, but the administration will be "doubling down" on its commitment to send 50 million free at-home tests to key sites like health centers and rural clinics.
  • "Partnerships with trusted community providers will aid in getting these important testing supplies into the homes of our hardest-hit communities," the White House said in a fact sheet.
  • The supply of rapid at-home tests is on track to quadruple since late summer, according to administration officials.
  • Worth noting: The Biden administration also announced Thursday plans to tighten pre-departure testing protocols for international travelers.

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the U.S.' first known case of the Omicron variant on Wednesday.

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated".
  2. Vaccines: Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers COVID testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Biden admin threatens to take back Arizona's COVID aid over anti-mask rules

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration warned Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) that it will take back the state's COVID-19 relief aid if it does not redesign programs that use the funding to discourage schools from mandating masks.

Driving the news: The state has two programs that are directed to schools and students. However, these programs take funding away from jurisdictions that have imposed mask requirements in schools, AP reports.

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data suggests that people with the Omicron variant frequently stay infectious for longer than five days, raising concerns about the CDC's updated isolation guidelines.

Why it matters: Experts say the issue could be resolved by using rapid tests to determine whether it is safe to exit isolation, but the CDC has not recommended a negative test as a condition to end isolation.