The Bulletin Board

DHHS buyback of more than 36,000 unsold COVID tests approved

By: - May 17, 2023 1:16 pm
Exterior of state liquor store

DHHS partnered with state liquor stores to expand access to COVID-19 tests. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

In February 2022, when COVID-19 tests were hard to come by, the state began selling them in its nearly 70 liquor stores for $11.29 each. About 200,000 were sold, according to Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Jake Leon.

The department received permission Wednesday from the Executive Council to use about $410,700 in federal pandemic aid to buy back 36,523 unsold tests from the New Hampshire Liquor Commission and redistribute them.

Free at-home, over-the-counter tests have become harder to come by since the end of the federal public health emergency May 11, when insurance companies and Medicare stopped reimbursing their members and enrollees for the cost of tests. They will cover at least some of the cost for medically necessary tests ordered by a provider.

Leon said the department has made or will be making the more than 36,500 tests from the liquor commission and an additional 730,000 tests available to schools, libraries, municipalities, health care organizations, senior centers, regional public health networks, and other public access points.

Leon provided a list of nearly 80 locations across the state that may have tests.

The department partnered with the liquor stores in late December 2021 to expand access to tests after it saw 850,000 free tests go in 24 hours. 

In a letter to the Executive Council, Lori Weaver, interim Health and Human Services commissioner, said interest in those tests declined as they became more readily available at pharmacies and online. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]