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June 23: A Doctor's Note on the Administration's Response to COVID-19

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Washington, June 23, 2020 | comments

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June 23, 2020

Dear Friends,

Today, the full Energy and Commerce Committee had the opportunity to hear from agency heads about the Trump Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although I was denied the opportunity to deliver an opening statement during today’s hearing by Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), I am grateful that the full committee finally convened for this important update.

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Having served in Congress for numerous outbreaks, I have seen how bureaucracy can hinder a response. While it may have been a bumpy start, I am impressed with how the agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services have worked together to lift burdensome regulations and allow for a nimble response, especially in the realm of testing. Robust testing will continue to be instrumental in our fight against this invisible enemy, along with continued social distancing practices.

Our response to this pandemic is not over, and I take my role on the committee with the greatest jurisdiction over health care very seriously. In future weeks, I hope the Energy and Commerce Committee can examine mental health, testing, provider relief, the strategic national stockpile, and the effectiveness of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. We have a duty to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a reliable but flexible pandemic response framework and to revisit policies when they need improvement.

Agency Updates
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) directed Medicare Administrative Contactors and Medicare Advantage plans to cover COVID-19 laboratory tests for nursing home residents and patients.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, halted enrollment in its clinical trial evaluating whether hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking partners to help protect communities by taking steps to prepare for COVID-19 vaccination and considering recent guidance on immunizing during the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health selected the Morehouse School of Medicine as the awardee of $40 million to fight COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable communities.

The Department of Labor released an online tool to help workers determine eligibility for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave in accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Until next time, this is your doctor's note.
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Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.

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