SAN LUIS OBISPO — In order to offset the costs for reagents, test kits, and staff time it takes to provide COVID-19 tests to the public, the County of San Luis Obispo has added new fees that will be billed to medical insurance effective Aug. 7.
The County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on Tuesday, July 7, to consider an ordinance amending the County Fee Schedule to add new fees for COVID-19 testing.
“Persons themselves will not bear the cost, but this will allow our laboratory to get revenue that will allow the ongoing testing support needed over the course of this pandemic,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. “The County Public Health lab prioritizes testing for health care workers, hospitalized patients, congregate care settings, corrections facilities, contacts of those who have tested positive.”
The County currently faces a $32 million to $56 million budget shortfall, meaning expenses are expected to outpace revenue countywide this fiscal year. The testing fees will result in an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 in revenue that will help offset the costs of COVID-19 testing as the pandemic continues.
Ongoing COVID-19 testing at current capacity will continue to impact the County Public Health Department. Fee revenue was not even partially recovering the cost of providing the service.
CARES Act funds are anticipated to offset a portion of the expenses to date for the COVID-19 tests already completed. For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at 805-788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at 805-543-2444 is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist with COVID-19 questions.