In letter signed by 21 members of Congress from California, Barragan explains a federal declaration is required to allow California healthcare providers more tools to fight the outbreak
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán led her colleagues in the California Congressional delegation to urgently request President Trump issue a federal emergency declaration on the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a letter to the president, 20 Congressmembers explained that a federal emergency declaration is required to allow California’s 1,400 community health centers to deliver and bill for telephonic, video and other alternative services during declared statewide emergencies.
“We stand in solidarity in working to stop the spread of COVID-19. We urge you to declare a federal state of emergency and allow California to utilize innovative health care methods in this time of crisis,” Congresswoman Barragán and her colleagues wrote in the letter.
The letter was signed by Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán, Alan Lowenthal, Ami Bera, John Garamendi, Mark Takano, Katie Porter, Jackie Speier, Doris Matsui, Jimmy Panetta, Linda Sánchez, Jared Huffman, J. Luis Correa, Mike Levin, Jimmy Gomez, Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, Grace Napolitano, Barbara Lee, Juan Vargas, Zoe Lofgren and Ro Khanna.
A PDF of the letter can be found here. A Text of the letter is below:
March 12, 2020
Dear Mr. President:
The undersigned California Members of Congress write to urgently request that you issue a federal emergency declaration due to the growing crisis of COVID-19. In addition to the national public health emergency declaration already issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a federal emergency declaration will unlock a greater array of tools California’s health care providers can use to contain the disease.
Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a State of Emergency to help the state prepare for broader spread of COVID-19, and our network of 1400 community health centers (CHCs) stands ready to assist in that effort. California’s Medicaid State Plan currently prohibits health centers from delivering and billing for telephonic services. In the wake of recent natural disasters in the state, last year the California legislature passed AB1494, which would allow health centers to bill for services delivered through alternative care models (e.g. telephonic visits) during declared statewide emergencies. However, this law cannot be implemented until both the Secretary of Health and Human Services issues a public health emergency declaration and the President issues a federal emergency declaration.
We know that to fight this disease we must be smart about limiting exposure while continuing to ensure Californians receive adequate health care services. Because community health centers provide health care services to 1 in 3 Medi-Cal recipients and 1 in 6 Californians, they can be a huge part of our state’s proactive response to containing and controlling the spread of COVID-19.
As of the writing of this letter, there are 2 confirmed deaths in California and 168 positive cases.
In partnership with the state and local and county health departments, California’s CHCs are working tirelessly to support the COVID-19 response and limit the growth of these statistics.
We stand in solidarity in working to stop the spread of COVID-19. We urge you to declare a federal state of emergency and allow California to utilize innovative health care methods in this time of crisis.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.