March 19, 2020
A little bit ago, I finished talking with Maria Bartiromo about Congress' plan with the announcement of two Representatives being diagnosed with this coronavirus.
She asked me my thoughts about Congress phoning in a vote for the third stimulus bill. My thought is it wouldsend the wrong message to thecountry. If a member of Congress is healthy thentheyshould be ready to take action on combatting Coronavirus next week in Washington. Even though Congress is not exempt from the risk of this international pandemic, House leadership should prioritize finding a way for members to be present in order to deliberate on the third coronavirus economic relief package.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has established a national response framework to help protect veterans from this coronavirus outbreak. This response framework will help coordinate available hospital care and medical services. The VA serves as a multiplier for the Department of Defense and the Public Health Service Corps in our nation’s response.
Americans who need a coronavirus test can get one - individual financial barriers should not be a deciding factor. The Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) clarified coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of this coronavirus. Traditionally, catastrophic health plans may not provide essential health benefit coverage prior to an enrollee meeting their deductible. CMS will not take enforcement action against plans that provide coverage without cost-sharing for COVID-19 related services before patients meet the deductible.
Individuals and medical professionals should delay all non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures during this coronavirus outbreak. CMS has issued guidance on conservation of essential resources, such as ventilators and personal protective equipment, by delaying all non-essential procedures. Similar to the benefits of social distancing, this will help reduce the spread of this coronavirus infection, as well as conserve medical equipment for those affected most by this pandemic.
Test and lab developers should contact the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Diagnostic Tests Hotline and Frequently Asked Questions page if they have questions or concerns. Developers are encouraged to call 1-888-INFO-FDA with any questions about the emergency use authorization process or sport shortages of testing supplies. This hotline may also be helpful to hospitals and others looking for testing information.
Abbott Molecular received an emergency use authorization from the FDA yesterday and will launch its coronavirus tests in hospitals and academic medical center labs imminently. This test allows for quick and accurate diagnosis of patients and is important to testing Texans, providing treatment, and preventing further spread of this coronavirus infection throughout the state and the nation.
Yesterday, two more deaths were reported in Texas due to this coronavirus. Texas is nearing 100 confirmed cases. The Texas Department of State Health Services is continuing to update their websitewith new information.
Today, Governor Abbott issued four executive orders to mitigate the spread of this coronavirus in Texas. These executive orders include:
- Limiting social gatherings to a maximum of ten people;
- Asking people to avoid eating or drinking at restaurants and bars;
- Limiting nursing home, retirement, and long-term care facility visits; and
- Closing schools temporarily.
In case you need another reminder of the importance of social distancing, read this blog post from the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins.
If you are a retired health care professional there are ways you can help. Programs such as the Medical Reserve Corps, Citizen Corps, and the American Red Cross are great ways to utilize your health care skills and experience.
Until tomorrow, this is your doctor's note.
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.