President Biden’s Test to Treat Initiative: Opportunities for Enhancement

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By Johonniuss Chemweno, Founder & CEO of VIP StarNetwork, LLC 

President Joe Biden delivered his first-ever State of the Union address, where he pledged to continue his support of the Allied nations in their insurgent fight against Russian oppression. President Biden started his address by speaking about the developing situation in Eastern Europe before moving on to introducing his domestic health and economic recovery plan, calling it the “Test to Treat Initiative.” 

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President Biden took a bold step in reminding the country of his administration’s progress while the world battles an ongoing pandemic and threat of a world war on the other side of the world. Biden’s reminder was glaring and explicit as if geopolitical events overshadowed any progress his administration has made so far: such as the enactment of the American Rescue Plan and Jobs Act. 

A four-point “Unity Agenda” was laid out by President Biden in his final remarks, which included combating the pandemic, improving mental health, helping veterans who have been affected by burn pits, and reducing the national cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years.

  1. The risk of severe COVID-19 can be reduced in people with a wide range of health conditions if they receive early therapy with a COVID-19 drug.
  2. Antiviral COVID-19 medications can be administered more quickly according to the White House’s new initiative, “Test to Treat.”
  3. In the event of a positive test result, those who are qualified will be provided with medication right away.
  4. People with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing a severe illness can currently use COVID-19 antivirals.

For the “Test to Treat” initiative to be highly successful, there will need to be a consistent program of public-private partnership between government and the private sector to ensure health equity is consistently met for communities that have been historically disenfranchised for medical services. These partnerships need to focus on seamless patient coordination for treatment with local pharmacies, healthcare providers and laboratories. 

The major challenge that we currently anticipate would be at-home tests and reliability between the success rate of antigen tests, which could provide a false negative and would potentially risk patients receiving treatment without validating a COVID-19 positive test result. 

“Test to Treat” Challenges & Patient Advocacy:

  • COVID-19 treatment consists of a process where a healthcare provider, typically in a facility or standalone clinic, diagnoses a patient by the COVID-19 standards of care, which require physicians to provide comprehensive medical care dependent on the patient’s medical condition. 
  • The treatment is consistent with the proper place of service as indicated by the ordering healthcare provider. The place of service either can be indicated by an external pharmacist (in which the patient goes to a local pharmacy) or by an internal hospital pharmacist (in which treatment is administered at the facility). 
  • Patient advocates and case managers assist with complex care in which the patient might lack fundamental and essential resources, to ensure patient compliance within the prescribed treatments. 
  • Testing continues to show gaps in care for disenfranchised families within underserved communities. President Biden announced 500 million test kits, but logistical challenges continue to disrupt the overall goal of extending free test kits nationwide to a wide array of communities. 
  • False positives need to be further explained in environments consistent with a clinical knowledge base, for patient education. When a patient receives an antigen test kit that demonstrates a positive test result, they should also be able to receive a PCR test result to confirm the diagnosis prior to receiving a referral for treatment at a local pharmacy. 

A wide range of initiatives, from reduced prescription prices and less reliance on fossil fuels to higher corporate taxes and higher salaries for workers, were outlined in the State of the Union address for 2022. Many industries — from healthcare and pharmaceuticals to energy – will have to negotiate this unpredictability while simultaneously dealing with an administration led by President Biden and Democrats in Congress who intend to enhance regulation and oversight. 

For Biden’s staff, this will be a crucial year to push their legislative program through the US Congress in anticipation of the upcoming November 2022 Congressional elections, which could result in Republican dominance of both the House and Senate.

Johonniuss Chemweno is Founder & CEO of VIP StarNetwork, LLC, which is changing how the healthcare industry offers benefits and increases access. Its mission is to expand quality and access to meet patient demand and reduce scheduling burdens for patients and doctors.

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