Psaki challenged on tone over at-home test kit proposal

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 22: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House December 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Earlier on Wednesday, President Biden spoke on measures the White House is using to mitigate supply chain bottlenecks, incentivizing new truck driver hirings and expanding domestic production. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 22: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House December 22, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 11:39 AM PT – Wednesday, December 22, 2021

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to backpedal after getting into a heated exchange with a reporter over a proposal the Biden administration ended up implementing. On Tuesday, Joe Biden explained his plan to deliver around 500 million at-home rapid testing kits to those who request them online.

“Yes, we have over 20,000 free testing kits. Yes, we’ve used the Defense Protection Act and spent $3 billion to greatly expand the number of at-home tests available for purchase online and at your local pharmacy,” Biden said. “And yes, we made sure insurance covers the PCR test you get at a hospital or at your doctor appointments. But starting next month, private insurance will also cover at-home testing. So, you can order a test online and get reimbursed.”

This comes after Psaki’s previous criticism of the idea when she was asked in the Briefing Room. A reporter confronted Psaki with the question of why wouldn’t the tests just be free and available everywhere.

Psaki snapped back stating, “should we just send one to every American? Then what happens if every American has one test? How much does that cost and then what happens after that?” The reporter then pointed out how many other countries are “making them available in greater quantities for less money.”

Since the administration has now decided to ship out free COVID tests to Americans, reporters were curious on Tuesday if Psaki had reflected on her attitude when giving her original response. She didn’t appear to have a straight answer.

“I would say there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t leave this podium and wish I would have said something of greater context or more precision or additional information,” said Psaki. “And that day, there was a lot of good questioning on testing and during that briefing, I conveyed a lot of information about our expansion of testing, about the 50 million tests that we’re making available, about the 20,000 free testing sites…and should I have included that additional context in that answer? Yes. Going back I wish I would have done that.”

Despite the mocking tone of White House officials towards potential approaches to combat the pandemic, the tests will reportedly be available for delivery beginning in January.

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