‘Not good enough’: Watch Rep. Katie Porter relentlessly grill Trump CDC head until he commits to making coronavirus testing free

‘Not good enough’: Watch Rep. Katie Porter relentlessly grill Trump CDC head until he commits to making coronavirus testing free
Image via Screengrab.

In the United States, working class Americans not only fear the possibility of being killed by coronavirus — they also fear that being treated or tested for it could leave them bankrupt and destitute. Rep. Katie Porter of California addressed those very real concerns this week during a coronavirus-related hearing in Washington, D.C., where she hammered health officials about the astronomical costs that could come with coronavirus.

Porter is great at making her case by laying out data, facts and figures, and she did exactly that during the hearing — informing health officials how much out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus-related testing or isolation in a hospital could cost. Those costs could include, roughly, $36 for CBC test, $58 for a metabolic panel, $43 for a Flu-A test, $43 for a Flu-B test, $1151 for an ER visit — a total of around $1331, according to Porter.

But the congresswoman quickly added, “That’s assuming they’re not kept in isolation” — which, “for one family,” could run $4000.

“Fear of these costs are going to keep people from being tested, from getting the care they need and from keeping their community safe,” Porter asserted. “We live in a world where 40% of Americans cannot afford even a $400 unexpected expense. We live in a world where 33% of Americans put off medical treatment last year. And we have a $1330 expense — conservatively, just for testing for the coronavirus.”

Porter went on to ask Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if he could “commit to the CDC right now…. to pay for diagnostic testing, free to every American regardless of insurance.”

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

Porter bluntly responded, “No, not good enough. Dr. Redfield, you have the existing authority. Will you commit, right now, to using the authority that you have vested in you under law that provides, in a public health emergency, for testing, treatment, exam,  isolation without cost — yes or no?”

Redfield continued to give Porter evasive responses, and the congresswoman again asked him to “provide for coronavirus testing for every American regardless of insurance coverage.” And she added, “Dr. Redfield, I hope that answer weighs heavily on you because it is going to weigh very heavily on me and on every American family…. You need to make a commitment to the American people so that they will come in to get tested.”

Redfield finally said, “I think you’re an excellent questioner. So my answer is yes.” And Porter responded, “Excellent. Everybody in America hear that: you are eligible to go get tested and have that covered regardless of insurance.”

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