As some states begin to ease quarantine restrictions and economic activity slowly resumes, the national conversation surrounding our new normal is quickly focusing on the safest way to “re-open” states.
Amid a growing desire for normalcy, United States of Care Founder and former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt, President Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, and leading public health experts, sent a bipartisan public health letter calling on Congress to fund activities that will be critical to allowing the nation’s economy to re-open. The letter’s authors include several members of our organization’s Board and Founders Council, including Board Member and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist, Founder’s Council Members Dr. Mark McClellan, Dr. Josh Sharfstein, former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, and Dr. Atul Gawande.
“The existing public health system is currently capable of providing only a fraction of the contact tracing and voluntary self-isolation capacity required to meet the COVID-19 challenge,” explains the letter, which is making national news. The group recommends the next federal relief package provide $46 billion to achieve what is the most important component for our recovery: a full-scale army of contact tracers and resources to help people self-isolate if they lack the shelter to do so.
While Congress has already passed some funding accomplishing this, the letter outlines the following critical needs:
- Build an army: $12 billion is needed to expand a workforce of content tracers 180,000 people strong and will be necessary until a vaccine is on the market
- Take care of our most vulnerable: $4.5 billion to utilize vacant hotels so those ill but without a place to properly self-isolate have somewhere they can go so they can limit the spread of the virus to others or their own families
- Meet financial needs: $30 billion to offer 18 months of income support for people self-isolating, with a per-person, per-day stipend of $50 for those who need it, much like federal jury duty.
United States of Care is working to ensure every single American has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income. With guidance from elected officials, real people, and our Founders and Entrepreneurs Councils, we have provided federal recommendations for Congress to address – first on March 20th and subsequently on April 14th. We continue to see a need for meaningful national investment in our health care system, both to combat the current pandemic and to ensure we are prepared to fight the next one.
Read more here about our commitment to supporting federal policymakers as they respond to COVID-19.