July 28, 2020
WASHINGTON – At the Republican leadership press conference today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), touted the HEALS Act’s provisions to support COVID-19 testing and treatments, as well as vaccine research, production, and delivery. Blunt noted that the HEALS Act includes language to ensure the Department of Health and Human Services has a plan to distribute the vaccine fairly, equitably, and efficiently.
Following are Blunt’s Remarks:
“This bill continues to focus in the fight against the virus. The fight for the economy can’t really be successfully waged unless the fight against the virus is successful in testing, in treatment, in vaccines. We’ve got about $50 billion in this bill for those things.
“On the vaccine and treatment areas that we’re looking at and even testing, trying to develop an absolutely safe FDA-approved vaccine, for example, while we’re making our best guess as to what’s going to get to that approval and going ahead and producing vaccines so when you get approval that vaccine will be available. And if it doesn’t get approved, that vaccine will be destroyed. But the difference in having a vaccine in the middle of January or in the middle of May is an incredible difference as we try to work forward.
“So we’ve got the money there but we’ve also got language in this bill that requires Health and Human Services to quickly get about the business of determining the priority of treatments and vaccines - the priorities of treatments, tests, and vaccines. Determining what’s the best way we can get that vaccine available when it is available. How do you get it distributed fairly and equitably around the country.
“I mentioned to the chief of staff again today in our meeting that by October 1, we need to know what that plan is. Even if we’re not going to have a vaccine to distribute until January 1, there’s no reason we don’t know what the distribution plan is by October 1.
“And for that to be made, we also need to know what’s the fair priority so when the American people look at this great investment in these areas they’ll understand that they were treated, again, fairly and equitably in a way that produces the best results in the fairest way. And that’s all in the requirements of this bill.”