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Democratic Rep. Katie Porter Hammers CDC Head Until He Commits To Free Coronavirus Tests For All Americans

Everyone, meet your new hero: Representative Katie Porter. The Congresswoman from California was relentless during a House meeting Thursday, telling Trump administration officials to basically get their heads out of their a**** and commit to free COVID-19 tests for Americans “regardless of insurance.”

Armed with a whiteboard and marker, Rep. Porter wrote down the costs of a battery of tests as well as a hospital stay, explaining that they could reach as high as $4000 for one uninsured family.

“Fear of these costs are going to keep people from being tested, from getting the care they need. And from keeping their communities safe,” Rep. Porter emphasized.

“We live in a world where 40 percent of Americans can’t even afford a $400 unexpected expense. We live in a world where 33 percent of Americans put off medical treatment last year, and we have $1,133 expense, conservatively, just for testing for the coronavirus.”

The exchange, which was with Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec and head of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield, took place after Wednesday evening’s less-than-informational address from President Trump. During that address, Trump incorrectly implied that those with coronavirus could access free healthcare treatment. However, many insurers have said they will pick up the cost of testing for the virus but not the treatment.

“Do you want to know who has the coronavirus and who doesn’t?” Porter asked Redfield in a remarkable exchange.

“Yes,” Redfield answered.

“Not just rich people, but everybody who might have the virus?” Porter asked.

“All of America,” Redfield replied.

The pièce de résistance is when Porter exerts pressure on Dr. Redfield:

“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 does a little metaphorical jig, hems and haws, says some vague stuff—and Porter is not having it.

“Not good enough,” she says. “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, exams, isolation, without cost, yes or no?”

It’s glorious to see someone fighting for you.

After more hemming and hawing and more pressure from Porter, finally we get the only right answer in this situation: “I think you’re an excellent questioner, so my answer is yes.”

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

Though it’s unclear whether Redfield was committing to pay only for the coronavirus test itself or also for visits to the emergency room or doctor’s office and for other tests, if everyone cared about us like Porter does, I would feel so much better about this whole situation.

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