Health Subcommittee Hearing Addresses Coronavirus, Other Guthrie Health Priorities
Edmonson Voice Staff Report:
Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Republican leader of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, questioned U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and other senior administration officials on current efforts to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
“For fifty days, we’ve learned much about the coronavirus, but much is still unknown,” said Guthrie at the hearing. “The White House and the administration need to reassure markets on where we stand and how we are going to be ready for a pandemic. I know people want to know at home, what is the current scientific consensus about the transmissibility and infectiousness of the virus and how long, once you’re infected, will you be infected?”
In response to Congressman Guthrie’s question, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed that the virus is highly transmissible. However, Secretary Azar noted that America’s risk of a pandemic is low, though that could change quickly.
The hearing also included U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield as witnesses.
Guthrie reiterated the need for preparation for a possible pandemic.
“We hope that the United States does not reach pandemic levels of the coronavirus but we must be prepared,” he said.
At yesterday's hearing, Guthrie also had the opportunity to ask Secretary Azar for an update on how HHS is implementing the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, a comprehensive bill that was signed into law in 2018 to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.
“The SUPPORT Act included my bill, the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act, to establish treatment centers that offer FDA approved medications and other treatments comprehensively,” said Guthrie. “Currently, SAMSHA has the grant application open for entities to apply, and I’m glad HHS is moving fast in implementing the program.”
Guthrie also spoke about his BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act.