Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks as U.S. Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton appears before a Senate Rules and Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Jan. 6, attack on the Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. Credit: Andrew Harnik / AP

Maine’s junior senator joined a group of Democratic colleagues on Tuesday urging the White House to require Medicare to cover at-home COVID-19 tests as the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly in Maine and across the U.S.

Private insurers are required to cover eight at-home COVID-19 tests per person each month following a rule from President Joe Biden’s administration announced earlier this month. Medicaid, including MaineCare, also covers at-home tests.

There is no similar requirement for Medicare. It has a particular impact in Maine, the oldest state in the nation, where 1 in 4 residents are on Medicare, according to 2018 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health research group. That is the highest share of any state.

In a letter to Biden administration officials, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and other senators noted that seniors and people with disabilities, the populations served by Medicare, are at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“[P]eople over 65 account for nearly three-quarters of all deaths from the virus,” they wrote. “The current policy leaves them on the hook for potentially significant out-of-pocket costs.”

Medicare does still cover other testing options, including testing at retail pharmacies and hospitals. The federal government is also offering up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household, which can be ordered online or by calling 1-800-232-0233.