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Article Published: 18 Jan 2022

Arts Advocacy Update — January 18

Federal Government Website to Order Free Rapid COVID Tests

The website covidtests.gov is up and running a day early for U.S. households to order four free at-home COVID rapid tests per delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. The website is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s plan released on December 21 to combat the latest surge in the pandemic by providing 500 million rapid tests to U.S. households beginning this month. It is a simple and quick process to order tests, and it will take 7 to 12 days for delivery. The administration has also ordered 500 million additional tests for a total of 1 billion rapid tests to eventually be distributed to U.S. households in the coming weeks and months.

Biden-Harris Administration Requires Insurance Companies and Group Health Plans to Cover At-Home Rapid Tests

The Biden-Harris administration has required insurance companies and group health plans to cover over-the-counter, at-home rapid tests for their insured, effective January 15. This is part of the administration’s plan released on December 2 to combat the latest surge in the pandemic. Insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover up to 32 at-home rapid tests per month per U.S. household for free; and eight such tests per month per individual. Depending on the insurance company or group health plan, the insured can shop and obtain such tests upfront for free or get reimbursed. Various news outlets have indicated that it will take some time for insurance companies and group health plans to comply with this new requirement.

House Small Business Committee Schedules January 19 Hearing on the Creative Economy

The House Small Business Committee has scheduled a January 19 hearing titled "The Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy." The hearing will feature four witnesses from across the arts and cultural sector who will discuss the important economic impact, among other benefits to the nation, of the creative economy and creative workers. The National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis under the U.S. Department of Commerce released the latest data (from 2019) in March 2021 that shows the production of arts and cultural goods and services in the U.S. added 4.3 percent directly to the nation’s GDP, for a total approaching a trillion dollars ($919.7 billion). The arts and cultural sector is also a top industry in various states in terms of employment. Pre-pandemic, the arts and cultural sector employed 5.2 million workers with a total compensation of $447 billion. The figure does not include self-employed arts workers.

The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. and will be recorded and archived. The hearing record will be open until Thursday, February 3 for the House Small Business Committee to receive written testimony from interested stakeholders. OPERA America will be submitting written testimony to highlight the economic importance of the opera community and the overall arts and cultural sector for the nation. OPERA America encourages its members and interested stakeholders to submit testimony, as well. Further inquiries and requests for assistance concerning written testimony can be directed to Tony Shivers, OPERA America's director of government affairs, at TShivers@operaamerica.org.