In a pandemic, things can move quickly.

You can see that in the rapidly rising and cresting waves of numbers as new variants of COVID-19 cause an ebb and flow of spread. It was obvious in the relative lightning speed of development of testing for the virus and for vaccines. It’s definitely clear in the split-second support or opposition any new report or policy prompts based on who shares it.

Perhaps it’s most seen in the way things are announced. It happens fast. It has to happen fast sometimes, yes. When the coronavirus was new and we didn’t know much about what was happening and everyone was flailing around to try to stop things from escalating, it was absolutely important to have things go as quickly as possible.

In Pennsylvania, a fast announcement followed by confusion about exactly what it means, often because it contradicts the information that came immediately before it, is what has defined the pandemic from the beginning. Remember when Gov. Tom Wolf closed schools March 13, reversing the decision made just hours before? Or when some businesses were essential and others weren’t — until they were?

It isn’t just a state government phenomenon. The Trump administration did a similar dance. So is the Biden administration.

On Monday, the White House announced insurance companies would start covering covid home testing kits.

Hey, great. Making it possible for people to get tests and check on their contagious status quickly and easily? That’s a good thing with an easily transmissible viral disease. This is something that would have been great to have in place a year ago or more, but better late than never.

However, much like many of Pennsylvania’s policies that might have made sense on one level but were executed clumsily on another, there is an element of the testing announcement that seems unprepared.

First of all, the idea of widespread home testing was one White House press secretary Jen Psaki all but laughed off when a reporter raised it weeks ago. How could that possibly work? Would they just be mailed to people at home? Ha!

Well, the president then announced that would happen and a website is being put in place for people to request that starting Jan. 19. But then he followed it up with the insurance-covered tests.

Major Pennsylvania insurance companies like Highmark, UPMC Health and Aetna all are working to find a way to deliver on the new demands. Highmark will start reimbursing with receipts and is finding a way to cover the tests without up-front payments. UPMC and Aetna say they are reviewing requirements.

Regardless, the rules say the tests would start being covered Saturday, so why wasn’t it coordinated in a way that the insurance companies would have a plan in place when the announcement was made?

— The Tribune-Review (TNS)

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