Rapid over-the-counter COVID-19 tests will be free through the federal Medicare program later this year, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday announced. 

The move comes after lawmakers and organizations for retired people, including the Retired Public Employees Association in New York state, called for the change. 

Medicare or Medicare Advantage recipients will be able to get up to eight over-the-counter tests per month at no charge or reimbursement -- affecting about 3.7 million New York residents. The benefit will kick in during the spring. 

Home delivery test kits will still be available at covidtests.gov.

"This announcement is great news for the nearly 4 million New Yorkers enrolled in Medicare who are set to be covered for rapid COVID-19 tests," Gillibrand said. "As cities and towns across the state continue grappling with the impacts of this pandemic, it’s vital that everyone has free and easy access to testing - not just those with private insurance. Today, we are one step closer to reaching this goal and I am thrilled the Biden administration has expanded its guidance to require Medicare to cover the cost of over-the-counter COVID tests for all beneficiaries."

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the program covering at-home COVID-19 tests. Medicare will cover the cost for recipients enrolled in the program.