It’s been over a year since the coronavirus pandemic came to our shores and completely changed our lives. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since March 2020, when we knew little about the virus and its impacts. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) played a leading role in the nation’s early response to the pandemic through the administration of many programs, including those that serve the disability community in our country. In the early days when the rapid pace was forcing quick decisions in an ever-evolving crisis, the former administration was put to the test, only to demonstrate a severe lack of preparedness in the face of this national emergency   . And the emergency is not over.
President Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who has a big task ahead, will continue to play a critical role in the Administration’s plan to defeat the coronavirus. HHS remains an integral part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic by issuing important guidelines to keep Americans safe and helping to provide and distribute crucial medical supplies such as PPE, hospital equipment like ventilators, and most recently vaccines.
The federal government, including HHS, must work closely with medical equipment manufacturers to produce these essential healthcare items. It’s common practice for businesses like this to enter into contracts with the federal government to help the executive branch achieve its goals. Incoming HHS Secretary Becerra must continue this long-standing partnership with companies that produce quality healthcare products to help President Biden execute his plan to end this pandemic.
At the onset of the pandemic last year, the Trump Administration needed to contract
with several ventilator companies because our national ventilator stockpile was severely depleted. Thankfully, the American manufacturing industry was quick to act and helped the federal government rapidly refill the stockpile. The House Oversight Committee is now looking into the ventilator contracts that the Trump Administration negotiated and rightfully so.
The previous administration botched their coronavirus response, and it’s the job of subcommittee chair Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi to hold bad actors accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of this investigation is that great companies who made significant contributions to help us through the pandemic are being attacked. The American manufacturers who worked day and night deserve recognition for their hard work during such an unprecedented time.
It sets a bad precedent to vilify healthcare companies like Philips, Vyaire, and Hamilton, who are longstanding federal government partners that produced essential medical equipment when our country needed it most. The House Oversight Committee’s intentions are incredibly understandable, and they should continue to pursue investigations into the Trump Administration’s handling of the pandemic and other recent events, but not by attacking the American manufacturing industry.
There has been a stark contrast between the way that President Biden and former President Trump responded to the coronavirus pandemic, and that’s been a welcome change. Let’s hope that HHS Secretary Becerra makes his focus on ending this pandemic and working with government partners as effectively as possible, rather than demonizing them as some Congressional Democrats have done.
Casey Jagusch is an educational advocate from Pasadena, CA.