(Video Credit: Fox News)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is known for her #PsakiBombs during press briefings, but on Monday, one blew up in her face as she mocked sending free at-home COVID tests to Americans and was dragged by doctors and health experts for it.
NPR’s Mara Liasson grilled Psaki over the tests, their costs, and availability and the White House’s mouthpiece promptly stepped in it after the White House declared that at-home testing could now be reimbursed by private insurance, which could ironically make the tests more expensive, according to The New York Times.
“Well, I would say first, you know, we have eight tests that have been approved by the FDA here. We see that as the gold standard. Whether or not all of those tests would meet that standard is a question for the scientists and medical experts, but I don’t suspect they would,” Psaki responded.
Liasson pointed out that COVID at-home testing is much cheaper in other countries and far more available than in the U.S. The NPR correspondent wanted to know why that is and Psaki didn’t appreciate the question one little bit.
#MedTwitter, myself included, had no shortage of feelings about that response. We are approaching the 2-year mark in this #pandemic. Home rapid tests should be everywhere & free. If we run out when we send one to every 🏠, we’re doing something very wrong.
— Tatiana Prowell, MD (@tmprowell) December 7, 2021
“I think we share the same objective, which is to make them less expensive and more accessible, right?” Psaki asked.
“Every country is going to do that differently. And I was just noting that, again, our tests go through the FDA approval process. That’s not the same process — it doesn’t work that way in every single country. But what we’re working to do here is build on what we’ve done to date and continue to build out our testing capacity because we absolutely recognize that this is a key component of fighting the virus,” she added.
“Our objective is to continue to increase accessibility and decrease costs, and if you look at what we’ve done over the course of time, we’ve quadrupled the size of our testing plan. We’ve cut the costs significantly over the past few months, and this effort to push insurers are — you’re able to get your tests refunded means 150 million Americans will be able to get free tests,” she asserted.
“That’s kind of complicated, though,” the reporter replied. “Why not just make them free and give them out and have them available everywhere?”
“Should we just send one to every American?” Psaki snipped disdainfully.
Liasson indicated that this is precisely what many are calling for. “Maybe,” she told Psaki.
Psaki, who by all appearances could care less about cost, played that card as the reason President Joe Biden is not pursuing a more aggressive testing strategy.
“Should we just send one out to every American? Then what happens if every American has one test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?” Psaki snarked. The response was noticed widely and she was absolutely excoriated for it.
Many would ask the press secretary exactly how much the pandemic has cost Americans to date.
Brown University economics professor Emily Oster was beside herself over the tone-deaf response, tweeting, “I’m appalled by this answer, in part due the the tone. But also it suggests no one is talking about doing this — free, widely available tests — even though many other countries are. I just do not get it.”
Epidemiologist Michael Mina eviscerated Psaki, “I can’t believe this isn’t an SNL spoof of the last two years of my life. Yes @jrpsaki we want tests literally delivered to every house through the mail.”
New York City ER doctor Craig Spencer voiced his opinion of the statement as well, saying, “Many are ridiculing this dismissive and out of touch take by @PressSec on Covid tests. But for me it’s the ‘how much does it cost’ part. We spent BILLIONS AND BILLIONS on vaccines that we would never consider charging for. Tests should be no different.”
Epidemiologist Emily R Smith dragged Psaki royally for her comment.
“Psaki scoffs when asked about free tests—a hallmark of strategies elsewhere. She lauds strict FDA review, which many note is a problem. We lack plans for equitable vaccine delivery locally & globally. We need better masks & better mask policies. Biden admin seems clueless,” she tweeted.
Medical contributor Uché Blackstock nailed the press secretary, “This exchange between Psaki and NPR’s Mara Liasson is so cringeworthy – Psaki saying the quiet part out loud. They don’t want to foot the bill for at-home rapid tests for every American.”
Author Dana Parish was blunt, “YES, @PressSec! We would like the government to DO ITS JOB. And don’t appreciate your snark about distributing a CRUCIAL PUBLIC HEALTH TOOL in the midst of global PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS. Thanks!”
YES, @PressSec! We would like the government to DO ITS JOB.
And don’t appreciate your snark about distributing a CRUCIAL PUBLIC HEALTH TOOL in the midst of global PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS.
— Dana Parish (@danaparish) December 6, 2021
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