Pallone Requests State Testing Plans from HHS Required by Law
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to request that he provide Congress the state testing plans that the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act required to be submitted to HHS.
The Act, which was signed into law on April 24, requires each state, locality, territory, tribe, or tribal organization receiving federal funding for COVID-19 testing to submit its plan to the Secretary of HHS for COVID-19 testing and its goals for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year within 30 days of enactment.
“This provision was intended to ensure the federal government has a full understanding of the testing capacity and ongoing testing needs of each state and locality so the federal government can efficiently coordinate with state and local partners and provide a cohesive framework for increasing testing capacity and access to testing,” Pallone wrote to Azar.
As noted in an HHS report to Congress last month, HHS set a deadline for states and localities to submit plans for the months of May and June to the Department by May 30, and plans for the remainder of 2020 by June 15, though Chairman Pallone has learned that some jurisdictions have sought additional time to respond. HHS has made clear that instead of coordinating a national strategy for COVID-19 testing, the Administration intends to defer much of the nation’s testing strategy to the states.
“I continue to strongly believe that a national testing strategy, coordinated and spearheaded by the federal government, is the most effective approach to ensuring our nation has adequate testing capacity to respond to COVID-19. Given this Administration’s deference to states and localities, it is even more critical that these testing plans be made public in order for Congress and the American people to review and analyze the testing efforts underway at the state and local level,” Pallone continued in the letter. “Without this information, we will be unable to ensure that the testing levels and goals are being met and the testing capacity and supply needs have been attained. It is also critical that federal oversight and coordination is taking place to properly respond to new surges in the number of COVID-19 cases.”
Pallone requested HHS provide the Committee with all of the state and local testing plans by July 6.
To read the full letter, click HERE.