Accountability Needed for HHS Response to Ebola Crisis

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Friday, joined by all 24 Texas House Republicans expressing concern about how existing public health resources were used in response to the outbreak of Ebola in the United States.

“In fact, of the $10.8 billion the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates it spent in FY 2014, almost $1.4 billion went to ‘Public Health Preparedness and Response’ activities,” the letter said. “Among these activities is a Cities Readiness Initiative to ‘support local medical countermeasure distribution and dispensing planning in the nation’s 72 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSA).’ Since Dallas is one of the cities in this initiative, and ground zero for the first U.S. Ebola case, it is especially troubling to witness the federal government’s communication missteps and confusion about protocols knowing that a wide range of federal resources have already been in place for years."

The letter went on, “As the brave health professionals directly involved with the treatment of this virus do their part, we must understand how years spent developing strategic plans and applying these significant resources failed to adequately prepare for dealing with Ebola after it was first discovered here. Before contemplating any additional course of action, we need a better understanding of how your Department has utilized the tools it’s already been given."

The Texas Republican Congressional delegation submitted the five following requests to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

  1. Please identify all strategic plans, policies, and protocols developed under the authorities of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Acts involved in the treatment and containment of the current Ebola crisis, along with a description of how these procedures are being implemented.
  2. Please provide an accounting of the role and steps taken by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, a position created by the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006, involved in the treatment and containment of the current Ebola crisis.
  3. Please provide an accounting of how all your Department’s Public Health Preparedness and Response activities, such as the State and Local Preparedness and Response Capability and the CDC Preparedness and Response Capability, were utilized in preparation for and in response to Ebola cases in the United States.
  4. Please provide any distinction between the role and responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and those of the recently appointed "Ebola Czar," Ron Klain, involved in the response to the current Ebola crisis, including containment efforts.
  5. Please identify any additional authorities and programs being used by the Department involved in the treatment and containment of the current Ebola crisis.

The letter was signed by the following Texas Republican members of Congress:

Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. Kevin Brady, Rep. Michael Burgess, Rep. John Carter, Rep. K. Michael Conaway, Rep. John Culberson, Rep. Blake Farenthold, Rep. Bill Flores, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Kay Granger, Rep. Ralph M. Hall, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Rep. Sam Johnson, Rep. Kenny Marchant, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Rep. Randy Neugebauer. Rep. Pete Olson. Rep. Ted Poe, Rep. Pete Sessions, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Steve Stockman, Rep. Mac Thornberry, Rep. Randy Weber, and Rep. Roger Williams.

View letter here.


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