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Pallone, Murray Demand More Data After Trump Administration Submits Embarrassingly Skimpy Report on COVID-19 Health Disparities

May 22, 2020
Press Release
“The Trump Administration must stop ignoring the disproportionate impact this crisis is having on communities of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ communities, and other underserved communities…”

Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar demanding the Trump Administration update and resubmit the “report” it provided regarding COVID-19 demographic data. The Members made clear the Administration’s submission fails to meet the requirements of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act and pressed for an updated version with comprehensive demographic data.

“The Report was woefully inadequate and we urge you to rewrite and resubmit the Report in order to meet your statutory obligation. As written, the Report provides no new insight into the devastating health disparities that communities across America are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. In fact, it simply repackages what was already readily available on the internet. Congress included this reporting requirement in the Payment Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act because a comprehensive report is necessary to fully understand and address the disproportionate impact this crisis is having on communities of color and other underserved communities,” wrote the Members.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act required the Trump Administration to submit to Congress a report on COVID-19 testing that includes available “data on demographic characteristics, including, in a de-identified and disaggregated manner, race, ethnicity, age, sex, geographic region and other relevant factors of individuals tested for or diagnosed with COVID–19,” and “information on the number and rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as a result of COVID–19.”

In response to this requirement, the Trump Administration last Friday submitted a four-page document that merely provided a list of links to existing, already public, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web pages that include limited data on testing and demographic characteristics.

The Members’ letter concluded, “The U.S. response to COVID-19 has been plagued by insufficient data on the impact of the virus, as well as the federal government’s response to it. Improved data collection and reporting on the demographic characteristics of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is essential to improving the U.S. response and to better understanding and addressing health disparities. This was the goal of the statutory reporting requirement in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act – a goal which the cursory May 15 report does not meet. The Trump Administration must stop ignoring the disproportionate impact this crisis is having on communities of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ communities, and other underserved communities and make some effort to expand the evidence base, as called for by the law. We are disappointed this Congressional mandate has been so carelessly flouted and strongly urge you to resubmit a report that not only includes comprehensive demographic data, but also meets the basic requirements of the law.”


To read the full letter, click HERE.

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