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Shaheen, Hassan Push for Funding Fix to Help Small & Rural States Access Fair Share of Vaccine Distribution & Testing Funding

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a letter led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and co-signed by Senators representing small and rural states in calling for Congress to fix discrepancies that have caused these states to receive significantly less funding for vaccines and testing than originally estimated. Small and rural states face unique challenges in addressing this pandemic. Unfortunately, funding allocated in December for vaccines and testing was distributed in a formula that resulted in small and rural states receiving inequitably low allocations of resources.

 

“Smaller and more rural states face unique challenges in providing accessible testing, and in the distribution and administration of vaccinations,” the Senators wrote.

 

They continued, “These resources are critical to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, to provide for the vaccination of as much of the population as possible as quickly as possible.  This issue is of paramount importance to our constituents.  We are united as a nation in our efforts to end this pandemic.  We can only accomplish this by ensuring that small and rural states, too, are provided the resources needed to support their populations.  We stand ready to work with you to address this inequity immediately.”

 

In the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act signed into law in December, small and rural states received significantly less funding for testing and vaccination than expected due to a population-based formula that does not accommodate the unique challenges faced by small and rural states.  In their letter, the Senators call for a more equitable allocation formula to accommodate these needs.  Failing to provide small and rural states with the necessary resources will only prolong this pandemic for the entire country.

 

Last month, Senators Shaheen and Hassan sent a letter with a bipartisan group of Senators to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the formula used to distribute federal funding to states for COVID-19 vaccine administration efforts, which leaves smaller states at a distinct disadvantage. The Senators requested that the CDC use available discretionary funds to bolster funding for states like New Hampshire, which are receiving significantly fewer dollars under the revised allocation method for these grants relative to what the states would have received under traditional approach to allocations. Senator Shaheen has played an active role in trying to draft and secure a fix for this issue as a part of the COVID-19 reconciliation legislation.

 

The full text of the letter can be found below:

 

Dear Chairman Pallone and Chair Murray:

 

We write about an urgent matter that must be resolved in the COVID-19 relief legislation currently being drafted.

 

Our states have received significantly less funding for testing and vaccination efforts than expected based on estimates provided by the Congressional Research Service that Democratic leadership circulated with the December passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. That law directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allocate funding to states, localities and territories according to the formula that applied to the fiscal year 2020 Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) awards. In its strict adherence to that bill language, HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based allocations of testing and vaccine funding solely on the population- based component of the formula, and disregarded the base award allocation method typically used for PHEP cooperative agreements. As a result, smaller and more rural states like the ones we represent received less funding than should have been the case using the traditional PHEP allocation method. Our constituents deserve equal access to critical testing and vaccines as we continue to work to stamp out COVID-19 and end this pandemic. The next COVID-19 package must ensure that allocations of these resources are fair, and in proportion to the full PHEP cooperative agreement award amounts made in FY2020.

 

We understand that the House of Representatives and the Senate are working swiftly to draft reconciliation legislation to address the sweeping needs that remain across the country. We respectfully ask that you consider remedies to address this funding inequity for small and rural states that has arisen from the implementation of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Smaller and more rural states face unique challenges in providing accessible testing, and in the distribution and administration of vaccinations. These resources are critical to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, to provide for the vaccination of as much of the population as possible as quickly as possible.


This issue is of paramount importance to our constituents. We are united as a nation in our efforts to end this pandemic. We can only accomplish this by ensuring that small and rural states, too, are provided the resources needed to support their populations. We stand ready to work with you to address this inequity immediately.

 

 

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