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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A loophole in the new coronavirus response legislation that President Trump signed into law this week exposes some patients to being billed for coronavirus tests — despite lawmakers' claims that the tests are free for everyone.

Details: The law says tests that have received FDA authorization must be free, but seems to leave out those tests that are awaiting or don't need such emergency approval.

  • The FDA has allowed labs to run tests while their authorization is pending, creating a window in which coverage may not be required under law.
  • The agency also recently issued new guidance allowing states to review tests themselves.
  • The exception "leaves patients open to surprise billing for tests administered under current policy," the Infectious Diseases Society of America wrote in a statement earlier this week.

Yes, but: Many insurers have pledged to fully cover the tests, so just because a patient receives one of these exempted coronavirus tests doesn't mean they'll necessarily be billed.

  • And the Senate GOP proposal for the third round of coronavirus-related legislation includes a provision that would fix the problem.
  • "If not remedied it will leave patients holding the bag for high testing bills and ultimately limit the number of tests being covered during this public health crisis," the American Medical Association wrote in an email to lawmakers acquired by Axios.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.