O’Halleran Sends Letter to VP Pence on Coronavirus Response

March 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional information about his Coronavirus Task Force and specific plans to provide care and funding for rural and medically underserved areas, like many in Arizona’s First Congressional District.

“Last week, I held two state-wide conference calls with county public health departments, hospital leadership, and tribal health officials,” said O’Halleran. “Many are frustrated with a lack of information and clear direction for the future of addressing this public health emergency. As we learn more about the Coronavirus and the way it spreads, we must ensure that rural and tribal communities receive the same attention and care afforded to more urban areas, as well as appropriate funding.”  

The letter asks

  1. Will the Task Force direct the Department of Health and Human Services to expand “1135 waivers” that would allow states to waive certain requirements for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, covering more patients during this public health crisis?
  2. Does the Task Force have a concrete plan for working with hospitals and providers in rural and medically underserved areas to ensure that adequate supplies for both patients and health care workers are readily available as more people are inevitably diagnosed?
  3. Is the Task Force working in conjunction with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to issue guidance to health care facilities in tribal communities, including guidance on qualifying for reimbursements?
  4. Does the Task Force have plans to address misinformation spreading in the public sphere and on social media platforms?

“To guarantee that we are adequately addressing the spread of this virus and preventing public panic, we must ensure that our state, local, and tribal public health agencies are adequately connected to the federal agencies with jurisdiction over managing preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19,” continued O’Halleran. “I look forward to hearing back from Vice President Pence about the Task Force’s plans to address the concerns of our district.”

View the full letter, here.