WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan participated in two Senate hearings today on the COVID-19 pandemic where she highlighted the need to manufacture additional personal protective equipment and expand telehealth services to respond to this public health emergency.
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President’s 2020 trade policy agenda with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Senator Hassan pressed him on the need for the United States to quickly and significantly increase its domestic supply of personal protective equipment.
To watch the Senator’s questioning during the Senate Finance Committee hearing, click here.
Regarding the United States’ current supply of personal protective equipment, Senator Hassan said, “This isn’t just a matter of public and individual health, it’s a matter of economic recovery. Businesses need this equipment to reopen, schools and day care centers, which will need to reopen if workers are to return to their jobs, needs this equipment…And let me be clear about what is happening on the ground, people do not have enough [personal protective equipment]. I just spoke with my nursing home administrators in New Hampshire, they are scrambling in a constant way to find enough [personal protective equipment].”
During the hearing, the Senator referenced documents released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency last week at the Senator’s insistence that detailed some of the Trump administration’s estimates on the supply and demand for personal protective equipment.
“The administration finally produced data last week that shows that they don’t have a plan for a sustained supply of all the personal protective equipment we will need for the long term and they are counting on requiring their users to reuse some of the [personal protective equipment] in order to meet even minimal goals of supply,” Senator Hassan said.
Earlier, during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, Senator Hassan discussed the need to expand telehealth services for substance use disorders and break down the barriers that doctors face in prescribing buprenorphine, a proven medication-assisted treatment that has helped countless Americans struggling with substance use disorder.
To watch the Senator’s questioning during the Senate HELP Committee hearing, click here.
The Senator highlighted bipartisan legislation she introduced last year with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would eliminate the requirement for practitioners to apply for a waiver through the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in order to prescribe buprenorphine for substance use disorder treatment.
Dr. Sanjeev Arora, Distinguished And Regents’ Professor at the University Of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, offered support for Senator Hassan’s legislation to eliminate the DEA buprenorphine waiver requirement, “Waiving that would dramatically expand access to substance abuse disorders [treatment] in our country.”