Would-be VP Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will be accepting her place on the Democratic ticket with a strong record on COVID legislative interventions as the virus emerges as a key flashpoint in November.
She has introduced and signed onto bills to address maternal mortality during the health crisis; expand what Medicaid covers for uninsured individuals receiving treatment related to COVID-19 and eliminate out-of-pocket health care costs during the pandemic.
Additionally, Harris has aimed to address data highlighting the alarming pattern of people of color dying from the virus. Earlier this summer, Harris introduced a bill to establish a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force within the Department of Health and Human Services. If enacted, the task force would have to provide reports and recommendations related to racial and ethnic disparities in the COVID-19 response to Congress and relevant federal agencies.
The most recent stimulus bill that Congress passed, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, requires the HHS Secretary to provide Congress with a report on the demographics of people who have been tested and diagnosed with coronavirus within 21 days of the legislation’s enactment.
Sen. Harris’s legislation adds to these efforts by seeking to build a team that would direct agency funds to combat such inequities once more comprehensive data sets are available.
The bill would also establish a permanent Infectious Disease Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force when the pandemic ends in order to continue monitoring inequities within the health care system.