Irvine Congresswoman Katie Porter on coronavirus testing for all Americans

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Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020. Photo credit: Governor Tom Wolf/CC 2.0, via Flickr

Irvine Congresswoman Katie Porter and the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, had a stunning exchange over COVID-19 testing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.  

Porter: “Dr. Redfield, will you commit to the CDC right now, using that existing authority, to pay for diagnostic testing free to every American regardless of insurance?”

Redfield: “Well, I can say that we’re going to do everything to make sure everybody can get the care that we need.”

Porter: “Nope. Not good enough. Reclaiming my time.”

She continued to press Dr. Redfield as he equivocated:

Porter: “Our intent is [to] make sure every American gets the care and treatment they need at this time of this major epidemic, and I’m currently working with HHS to see how to best operationalize it. … Dr. Redfield, you don’t need to do any work to operationalize. You need to make a commitment to the American people so they come in to get tested. You can operationalize the payment structure tomorrow.”

Redfield: “I think you’re an excellent questioner. So my answer is yes.”

Porter: “Excellent. Everybody in America hear that? You are eligible to go get tested for coronavirus and have that covered, regardless of insurance.”

Congresswoman Porter talks to us about how that COVID-19 testing commitment gets implemented. 

Also, the Trump administration announced this morning that it’s going to speed up coronavirus testing, including partnering with the private sector to set up drive-through testing sites. Is that enough?

Trump has also declared this a national emergency. He’s using the Stafford Act to give FEMA the responsibility to coordinate disaster relief efforts, freeing up to $42 billion to pay for it. Is that the right move? 

Credits

Guest:
Katie Porter - Democratic Congresswoman representing the 45th District of California (Irvine)

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin