In Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, Dr. Susan Tyler receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital. Credit: Courtesy of Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital

The Maine Legislature will consider a proposal that would require insurance companies to cover COVID-19 tests and immunizations and waive any co-payments related to them.

Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford, both Democrats, unveiled the “COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights” on Monday. The proposal will be the first bill of the new session of the Maine Legislature, Democratic leaders said.

Jackson said the proposal is about making sure patients around the state maintain access to critical health care services during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights brings us closer to the end of this crisis, and the hold COVID-19 has had over our lives,” he said.

Maine already covers testing charges at its various “swab and and send” sites for anyone who feels they need one and rapid tests provided through a partnership with Walgreens, provided a person has COVID-19 symptoms. Two federal laws passed last spring required most insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, to cover testing along with any associated doctor’s office visits, as long as a federal state of emergency was in place.

The bill would ensure testing continues to be free regardless of whether the state is in a civil emergency. It would prevent insurers from charging a deductible, copay or any other cost-sharing requirements, according to the text

The proposal also includes provisions that ease requirements for telehealth visits. It is also designed to allow residents to get larger supplies of their prescriptions to reduce the number of visits to a pharmacy.

Story by Patrick Whittle. BDN writer Caitlin Andrews contributed to this report.