Doctors concerned about uninsured patients are calling on Congress to approve a new round of federal COVID funding.
"There are people in the community that don't have health insurance," said Dr. Jerry Abraham, director of the vaccine program at Kedren Health. "There are people that don't have any way of paying for COVID services... We can't afford to do it for free.
Abraham and his team vaccinate many in underserved and uninsured communities, however without the federal funding, Abraham believes the program may not last much longer.
"If we're going to learn how to live with COVID, we've got to learn to keep COVID-19 vaccine programs running — to make sure testing is available when we need it," he said.
The concerns come as a new strain — Ba.2 — spreads internationally only worrying doctors even more.
"We might see a little bit of a blip, a bit of an uptick in cases but I don't think it'll be as significant as the winter surge at all here in the United States or in Los Angeles," said emergency physician Dr. Michael Daignault.
Daignault also worries that the spread of Ba. 2 and possibly other variants coupled with the closure of COVID programs may expose vulnerable patients to more risk.
"I just worry that the same people that have been marginalized throughout this pandemic are going to get hit hard again if there's not enough funding," said Daignault. "They're not going to be able to get tested. They're not going to be able to know or have access to antivirals."
Abraham hopes state or local funding can offset some of the money that may be lost when federal funding begins to fade out starting Tuesday.
"These vaccines mean nothing if they don't end up in the arms of the people who need them most," said Abraham. "And we can't figure out how to pay for that — that's not real darn shame.
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