Washington, D.C. —Yesterday, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, joined Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly to send letters seeking detailed information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) regarding the testing, diagnoses, and costs of treating the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The Oversight Committee is deeply concerned about COVID-19’s impact on our nation’s public health,” the Chairs wrote.  “It is essential that accurate and up-to-date information about testing and diagnosed cases is made public—in order to effectively manage this outbreak and keep the trust of the American people.  It is also imperative that the Oversight Committee has access to basic details regarding diagnoses—such as the number of cases confirmed in each state—so that it can conduct appropriate oversight of this urgent matter.”

Press reports indicate that there have been more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus across 15 states.  CDC’s primary channel for communicating information about the outbreak to the America people—the COVID-19 Situation Summary webpage—lacks information regarding the number of cases confirmed in each state.

Press reports of limited availability of testing kits, flaws in those that were made available, and narrow testing requirements raise concerns about the Trump Administration’s readiness to efficiently and accurately diagnose COVID-19. 

The Chairs requested key data by March 9, 2020, on diagnosed and monitored COVID-19 cases, as well as documents relating to COVID-19 testing.

The Chairs also sought information about how HHS plans to ensure that the uninsured and underinsured are tested and treated for COVID-19.  According to a press report, an underinsured man recently went to a hospital to be checked for the coronavirus, and although a routine test revealed that he only had the flu, he received a bill for $3,270.

“Testing and treatment costs of thousands of dollars will cause many uninsured and underinsured individuals to avoid care for coronavirus-like symptoms,” the Chairs wrote.  “That will not only hurt those who go untreated, but it will also hasten the spread of COVID-19.”

On March 10, 2020, the Subcommittees on National Security and Economic and Consumer Policy will hold a joint hearing on U.S. biodefense and the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Testifying at the hearing will be HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec, CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, and Government Accounting Office (GAO) Director for Homeland Security and Justice, Mr. Chris Currie. 

Invitations have also been sent to the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Click here to read today’s letter to the CDC.

Click here to read the letter to HHS and CMS on insurance coverage procedures.

Click here to read the letter to the HHS on authorizing and distributing testing procedures.