Following Historic Hearing, Chairman Neal Questions HHS’s Commitment to Eliminating COVID-19-Related Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Jun 8, 2020
Press Release
SPRINGFIELD, MA – Today, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) followed up with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after concerning information was entered into the record in last month’s Committee hearing, “The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color.” During the hearing, Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) submitted a letter from HHS acknowledging the alarming nature of COVID-19-related racial disparities, but lacking any clear plan for addressing the current public health crisis.
“In acknowledging the alarming nature of the COVID-19 related racial disparities data being reported from across the country, the HHS letter notes ‘our scientists are racing to understand why.’ Given our current national discourse, however, I worry that this statement suggests the Department is neglecting important previous work it has conducted regarding this matter,” wrote Chairman Neal
In response to a statement from the letter, Neal wrote: “This statement evidences full awareness within HHS of the role systemic racism and discrimination have on the health of people of color.”
HHS outlined one $40 million initiative focused on the intersection of communities of color and COVID-19, which Chairman Neal called a “cursory response” that “is an unacceptable return on taxpayers’ investment in OMH and is wholly inadequate to even begin to address the real plight of our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who are also members of communities of color.”
In addition to requesting more detailed information into the agency’s plan for addressing these racial disparities, Neal also urged HHS Secretary Azar to accept his outstanding invitation to testify before the Ways and Means Committee to further discuss these pressing issues.
The full text of Chairman Neal’s letter to HHS is available HERE.