Breadcrumb
  1. Home
  2. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
  3. Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing Supplies

Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing Supplies

Engaging HRSA-Supported Health Centers

On this page:

HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program
Technical Assistance Resources
General Testing Supply Program Frequently Asked Questions
At-Home Self-Testing Supplies Frequently Asked Questions
Point-of-Care Testing Supplies Frequently Asked Questions

HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program

As part of the Biden Administration's "Path Out of the Pandemic" COVID-19 Action Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in partnership with the Department of Defense is making available to all HRSA-supported health centers (including look-alikes), as well as Medicare-certified rural health clinics, free COVID-19 testing supplies, authorized by the FDA for emergency use. The HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program will make available for order: (1) at-home self-tests, and (2) a limited quantity of point-of-care, rapid antigen testing analyzers and test strips for clinical settings. The point-of-care tests available to health centers will be for COVID-19 or for COVID + Flu A/B. Distribution of the at-home self-tests and point-of-care tests at no cost to health center patients and community members supports and expands community-based COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

For additional information on available COVID-19 screening and testing near you, visit Find a Health Center. Please call the health center nearest you for more information about the availability of low or no-cost COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

Read the ACL-HRSA Statement on COVID-19 support for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

Read the HUD Statement on Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing Supplies - HUD Exchange.

Technical Assistance Resources

General Testing Supply Program Frequently Asked Questions

What is the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Consistent with the Biden Administration's “Path Out of the Pandemic,” HHS is providing free, at-home self-tests and a limited quantity of point-of-care testing supplies to health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics, for distribution or use at the point-of-care at no cost to patients and community members. The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 tests are made available to populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. As of December 21, 2021, all HRSA-supported health centers (including look-alikes) and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are eligible to participate in the at-home self-testing supply program after completing the onboarding process. On February 16, 2022, HRSA added point-of-care testing supplies to the program. Health centers and rural health clinics already onboarded to order at-home self-tests do not need to take additional onboarding steps to order point-of-care supplies. 

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

Why are health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics encouraged to participate in the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Health centers provide primary care services to nearly 29 million people each year throughout the country, including in geographically isolated and medically underserved communities. Two-thirds of the population served by health centers are living in poverty, 62% are racial and/or ethnic minorities, and nearly 1.3 million are unhoused. Additionally, approximately 4,800 Medicare-certified rural health clinics ensure primary care access and improve health outcomes for the estimated 62 million Americans who live in rural communities.

All health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are eligible to receive and distribute at-home self-tests to their communities, and to conduct point-of-care tests in the primary care setting. This is to support greater COVID-19 mitigation efforts and to ensure that those most at risk for COVID-19 have access to at-home self-testing and point-of-care testing supplies.

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

When is it appropriate to distribute an at-home self-test? When is it appropriate to administer a point-of-care test to a patient?

At-home self-tests for COVID-19 are those that a patient can perform at home or in another location without the assistance of a health care provider. These types of tests offer fast results and may be more convenient than laboratory-based or point-of-care tests in certain situations. The CDC provides more information on self-testing. 

Point-of-care tests for COVID-19 and the flu allow for rapid testing at the provider’s location. Patients can receive timely digital results so they can get on-the-spot treatment, including oral antivirals, if appropriate. The CDC has additional information regarding testing options.

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

Are health centers required to receive testing supplies through this program?

No. This is a voluntary program. Only health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics that choose to register with HRSA and place orders through the online ordering system will receive the COVID-19 at-home self-tests, point-of-care analyzers and test strips or any additional testing supplies that may become available.

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

How are the sites selected that will receive testing supplies?

Each health center and Medicare-certified rural health clinic determines which of its service delivery sites receive testing supplies based on patient and community need and storage capacity. Health centers may revise the delivery sites as needed.

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

What information are health centers expected to report regarding distribution of the at-home self-tests or the point-of-care tests?

It is important for health centers to report the number of at-home self-test kits distributed and who receives them (e.g., health center patients, community members). They should also report the number of patients that received COVID-19 tests (including point of care tests) in the biweekly HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Survey.

Health centers began reporting information for at-home self-tests in the December 30, 2021 survey. For the point-of-care tests, health centers should report tests conducted in the past two weeks. For a full list of questions in the biweekly survey, please see the COVID-19 Data Collection Tool User Guide.

It also important for health centers to report their stock on hand in the Health Partner Order Portal (HPoP).

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

Do health centers need to report positive at-home self-test and point-of-care test results to HRSA?

Participating health centers must answer the biweekly HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Survey questions. Health centers should also follow local guidelines for public health reporting and address positive patients as per clinical protocols. HRSA recommends including any positives that you become aware of in your testing totals for the HRSA biweekly survey.

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

Where should health centers direct questions about the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

For Systems Access Issues, including assistance with navigating the Health Partner Order Portal (HPoP):

COVID-19 Administration Reporting System (CARS) Help Desk
Email: CARS_HelpDesk@cdc.gov
Phone: 1-833-748-1979
8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday

For Policy/Program Questions:
Health Center Program Support
Select: HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Testing Supply Program from the COVID-19 menu
Phone: 1-877-464-4772
8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday (except federal holidays)

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

At-Home Self-Testing Supplies Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any special temperature requirements for storing the at-home self-tests?

Yes, additional information regarding product storage requirements may be found with product-specific information available through the Health Center COVID-19 Online Community.

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

Are there guidelines regarding who may receive the at-home self-tests supplied by the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 at-home self-tests are made available to health center and Medicare-certified rural health clinic patients and community populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. Individuals from the community who request at-home self-tests should receive them, with consideration of their individual and family risk for COVID-19 and related need. This may include health center staff, if needed. Local employers should review OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for guidance regarding their legal obligation for employee testing.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

What are some examples of populations who may receive the at-home self-tests supplied by the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are encouraged to disseminate test kits to their communities to provide access for populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Health care for the homeless mobile clinics, street medicine teams, and field-based case management teams.
  • Agricultural worker programs in rural areas.
  • Individuals visiting nursing home patients, traveling to see elderly adults or small children, and/or who are asymptomatic with known exposure.
  • Homebound patients during home visits or as a leave-behind after a visit.
  • Essential workers, such as childcare providers, teachers, and health workers in long-term care facilities.
  • Health center sites or rural health clinic sites where there are no large pharmacies or grocery stores nearby.
  • Residents of HUD-assisted housing (see Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing Supplies – HUD Exchange).
  • Individuals living in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, adult foster care, and college dorms.
  • Older adults and individuals with disabilities (see COVID-19 support for older adults and individuals with disabilities).

(Updated: 2/23/2022)

How many at-home self-tests can an individual receive at one time from the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics should use their best discretion in distributing at-home self-tests to the local community and follow their established protocols. An individual may request test kits for all members of their immediate household. The family members do not have to be present to receive the test kits.

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

What information should health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics share with community members about using the at-home self-tests?

As health centers distribute the at-home self-tests, they should provide information about how and when to use the tests and what to do if a test is positive, including how the individual may contact the health center or rural health clinic for assistance. Individuals may use the self-test immediately or when appropriate at a future time (please note that tests expire after one year). For information regarding self-testing, please refer to the CDC Self-Test webpage.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

Point-of-Care Testing Supplies Frequently Asked Questions

How do you conduct Point-of-Care testing?

Additional information regarding product use requirements, including instructional videos, training resources and other guidelines, may be found with product-specific information available through the Health Center COVID-19 Online Community.

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

Are there any special temperature requirements for storing the point-of-care test strips?

Yes. Additional information regarding product storage requirements may be found with product-specific information available through the Health Center COVID-19 Online Community.

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

Do the point-of-care testing test strips have an expiration date?

Yes. Each test strip has an expiration date printed on the outside carton. Do not use the kit beyond the expiration date printed on the outside carton. Additional information regarding product expiration may be found with product-specific information available through the Health Center COVID-19 Online Community.  Management of expired materials is the responsibility of the health center or rural health clinic.

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

Are there guidelines for who may receive the point-of-care tests and where health centers and rural health clinics may administer the point-of-care test?

The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 tests are made available to health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinic patients and community populations in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19.

Additional information regarding product use requirements, including any applicable Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certified or waiver requirements, may be found with product-specific information available through the Health Center COVID-19 Online Community.

(Updated: 5/9/2022)

Date Last Reviewed: