Senator Takes Questions from Providers and Advocates on Medical Supplies, Telehealth, Economic Support
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today took questions from New Hampshire health care providers and advocates during a video town hall and shared ongoing efforts in Congress to get health care providers the supplies and resources that they need to serve their patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Hassan opened the conversation by thanking participants for their life-saving work, stating, “I hope all of you are healthy and safe and I want to thank you for what you and your organizations do every day, but particularly what you are doing on the frontlines of this pandemic. It’s critically important and I know it’s a time of incredibly hard work and unforeseen challenges – I can’t thank you enough for what you are doing.”
Responding to a question about telehealth, Senator Hassan said, “One of the things we did in the series of packages so far is to recognize that especially during a pandemic, it’s critically important that health care services can be delivered by telehealth. It’s particularly important not only for people who might have the virus but for those with mobility concerns or in rural areas.”
Senator Hassan also addressed the urgent need for FEMA and the administration to work together to produce and distribute personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and other resources to hospitals: “I’m pushing on FEMA to do a much better job of taking control of procurement and distribution of [personal protective equipment] and pushing the administration on testing…We obviously need to vastly increase [testing] capacity.” Senator Hassan added, “We’re really not going to be able to open up the economy let alone keep people as healthy as possible until we get the testing challenge complete.”
In addition, Senator Hassan shared her support for hazard pay for essential workers: “There is active work on…hazard pay not just for health care workforce but for first responders, and for folks like grocery store clerks many of whom are under enormous strain and worry right now as they’re out in the public.”
In response to a question on telehealth in the mental health care space, Senator Hassan said, “It’s critical that mental health providers are supported financially through this crisis…I know how important mental health services are always, but right now in particular we have so many people under stress.”
Today’s call was part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to support health care providers on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 response package that Congress passed into law includes more than $100 billion to help hospitals and frontline health care workers scale up their capacity to treat more patients, purchase essential supplies and personal protective equipment, and cover some of the costs related to hospitals cancelling non-elective procedures. The first distribution of these funds is going out to New Hampshire hospitals today. The legislation also expands access to telehealth and provides emergency funding to community health centers. In addition, Senator Hassan has worked with Governor Sununu and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to repeatedly call on the administration to get critical medical supplies to the frontlines.