Burgess: Congress Did the Right Thing by Strongly Responding to COVID-19
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health released the following statement after the House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that includes several legislative priorities of the subcommittee.
"It is a very sad and dangerous time in our country. But here is the simple truth: Congress needed to do something to stabilize the economic situation," Burgess said. "Our country is in a war and if Congress did not act, we would not have the ability to pick up the pieces on the other side of this pandemic."
"The CARES Act aids the airline industry, small businesses, and non-profits. Student loan repayments are delayed, the tax filing and payment deadline is deferred, and individuals and families will receive direct cash payments. The bill increases unemployment insurance and nutrition program payments while easing requirements. These measures will immediately ease the burden on businesses and Americans.
"It is gratifying to see the strong health policies we were able to include in this package, including my Ready Reserve bill. From my discussions with Admiral Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health, I knew this was a problem a year ago. The members of the U.S. Public Health Commission Corps are the equivalent to the U.S. National Guard for public health response, and throughout this crisis hundreds of Commission Corps members have been deployed to help on the front lines. This provision will provide these Commission Corps members the benefits they earned by protecting the public health of the American people.
"This package expands coverage of COVID-19 diagnostic tests and rapid coverage for preventive services and vaccines when they become available. Manufacturers of personal respiratory equipment will have permanent liability protections in order to incentivize production and protect our frontline health care workers. The CARES Act reauthorizes our health professionals and nursing workforce programs. The inclusion of the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act is integral in protecting medical professionals volunteering in this response, and the policy to realign 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA is important for appropriately treating individuals with substance use disorders.
"Many of these health provisions were evaluated and approved in the last Congress under the leadership of Greg Walden and me in the Energy and Commerce Committee and the health subcommittee. They are especially vital now.
"It is disappointing that some members decided this was the time to push their own partisan agendas and work to inject policies unrelated to the national emergency at hand. I don't know why people behave this way, but I hope we will reunify and be undivided in our response to this virus.
"We will get to the other side of this strife and that is the important thing to stress. A dawn is coming when COVID-19 does not occupy all of our waking thoughts. Congress's actions today will help to preserve the American economy. That is the guiding principle here."