Why The Biden Administration Is Suspending Its Free Home COVID Test Program

White House officials have announced that starting Friday, September 2, the nation's free home COVID test kit program will be suspended until further notice due to a lack of funding, as per the COVID.gov government website. "If Congress provides funding, we will expeditiously resume distribution of free tests through covidtests.gov," an unidentified senior government official told NBC News over the weekend.

While the online ordering of the test kits will no longer be accessible, WebMD reports that COVID test kits will continue to be made available through other means including a combined 15,000 pharmacies, community health clinics, and library locations. Additionally, those with health insurance can be reimbursed for as many as eight purchased test kits each month, extending to all covered members, as per COVID.gov.

The decision also comes in the face of waning supply, reports NBC News. In response, the Biden administration is reserving remaining available test kits in anticipation of a surge of cases later this year.

Government COVID preparations for the upcoming winter season

"We believe reserving the remaining tests for distribution later this year is the best course," explained a government official source to NBC News. In addition to retaining its current supply, WebMD reports the administration is also in the process of increasing its stock. It is also attempting to obtain more test kits in preparation for the fall season.

Health officials have estimated a potential 100 million cases of infection to occur throughout the coming fall and winter months, according to The New York Times. While these numbers rank lower in comparison to those seen during the Omicron winter surge, experts explain that the anticipated case numbers may still impact about 30% of Americans. One government official, who wished to remain anonymous, told The New York Times that the surge is likely to occur in tandem with the arrival of cold weather, as people spend more time inside. A new Omicron subvariant is expected to potentially be behind the surge, rather than a new variant altogether.