search
Sections List
American Journal News

Experts slam GOP bill letting states ignore federal health standards in emergencies

Letting states set their own diagnostic testing standards ‘creates enormous confusion,’ one health expert said.

By Josh Israel - May 20, 2020
Share
Mike Lee, Ted Cruz
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, right, speaks as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, listens as President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, for the third day of his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Four Senate Republicans introduced a bill on Tuesday that would allow states the option to simply ignore federal testing standards during public health emergencies.

Experts say this could cause serious problems for tracking and containing future pandemics.

The “Right to Test Act,” authored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), would change federal law to note that “during any public health emergency” declared by the secretary of Health and Human Services or a governor, the state’s public health department “may clear or approve diagnostic tests or diagnostic devices” for use in that state on their own, rather than following one set federal standard.

If enacted, the bill would also take away the Food and Drug Administration’s power to take enforcement actions against any state or facility making or using state-approved tests.

The proposal comes after the Trump administration’s botched handling of coronavirus testing has come under increasing scrutiny, even from Trump loyalists and advisers.

“Our federal bureaucracy simply has not moved fast enough during this crisis,” Lee said in a press release announcing the legislation. “We need to empower the creativity of Americans to solve this crisis and allowing states to cut through regulatory delays will do just that.”

But experts warn doing so could make things even worse.

Emily Gee, health economist at the Center for American Progress, said in a phone interview that the problem has been “lack of federal leadership” in virus testing standards, not an excess.

“It doesn’t seem like a great idea,” she said. “News reports in the last week show all sorts of examples of what happens when there aren’t uniform standards for reporting across states. It’s really hard to see best practices and make comparisons when they’re reporting different ways.”

She noted that Virginia had come under criticism recently when it began including antibody testing numbers in its daily coronavirus test counts, making any apples-to-apples comparison with other states nearly impossible.

“[This is] not good if we’re trying to make objective decisions about whether it’s safe to reopen or not,” she said. “We do want national standards and a decent amount of oversight on what tests get used and how things get counted so we have a clear picture of what’s happening in terms of the disease’s spread and whether we have the virus under control.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in a phone interview that the GOP bill was undoubtedly problematic.

“The reason it’s a bad idea is that states don’t have the capacity to do this,” he said. “State laboratories and their laboratorians are very good. But the problem is when you have something like this that’s a nationwide emergency, the more consistency you have, the better. That’s the FDA’s job. The FDA has the capacity to do that.”

Benjamin echoed Gee’s concern about the importance of standardized data.

“To the extent you have tests that are done across state lines, the problem is it creates enormous confusion,” he explained. “You need to be able to compare the test from one state to another to get a national picture. I would argue against this approach.”

He noted that the FDA already has the authority to allow individual states to do their own testing and that they did so in some cases during this pandemic. But, he said, states lack the financial resources to create “50-plus FDAs across the country.”

“States have not been able to adequately support the basic public health functions: keeping water safe, food safe, and air safe. I’m not sure how they’re gonna add this additional burden,” Benjamin concluded.

The Trump administration has faced heavy scrutiny over the past few months for its botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic, specifically its failure to prepare adequately by strengthening national stockpiles and establishing a strong national response from the outset.

Trump was also criticized for ignoring early warnings about the virus and refusing to heed health experts’ advice on various safety measures, as well as for his administration’s failed approach to testing, which likely worsened the crisis dramatically.

“Early on in this crisis, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing,” Trump’s own trade adviser, Peter Navarro, admitted to NBC News on Sunday. “Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test and that did set us back.”

Navarro was referring to the CDC’s early test kits, which were later recalled due to a flaw that resulted in inconclusive results. The error added further delay to the nationwide testing process, which experts say only allowed the virus to spread further.

Though Lee suggested in a statement this week that the newly introduced GOP bill might have remedied the current situation, claiming “federal bureaucracy simply has not moved fast enough,” experts are still doubtful.

Benjamin noted that the FDA already has the authority to allow individual states to do their own testing and that they did so in some cases during this pandemic. But, he said, states lack the financial resources to create “50-plus FDAs across the country.”

“States have not been able to adequately support the basic public health functions: keeping water safe, food safe, and air safe. I’m not sure how they’re gonna add this additional burden,” Benjamin concluded.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


AJ News
Get the latest news here first.

Tai News

Newsletter
Read More
Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - February 16, 2024
Jackson bill seeks to lower the price of insulin, ease access for nonprofit manufacturers

Jackson bill seeks to lower the price of insulin, ease access for nonprofit manufacturers

By Evan Popp, Maine Morning Star - February 14, 2024
Oregon lawmakers look for ways to curb prescription costs 

Oregon lawmakers look for ways to curb prescription costs 

By Ben Botkin, Oregon Capital Chronicle - February 12, 2024
Hispanic and teen fertility rates increase after abortion restrictions

Hispanic and teen fertility rates increase after abortion restrictions

By Eleanor Klibanoff, Texas Tribune - January 26, 2024
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
AJ News
Latest
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Republican Bernie Moreno opposes existence of minimum wage

Republican Bernie Moreno opposes existence of minimum wage

By Jesse Valentine - February 23, 2024
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

By Jesse Valentine - February 22, 2024
More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

By Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal - February 22, 2024
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024