Rep. Payne, Jr. Wants to Protect Dialysis Patients during Coronavirus Crisis

April 8, 2020
Press Release

Media Contact:  Patrick Wright   --  Patrick.Wright@mail.house.gov 

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. wants to keep dialysis patients, one of the most vulnerable populations to infection, from contracting coronavirus.  Rep. Payne, Jr. said he wants to make sure all “reasonable and necessary measures” are taken to get preventative medical supplies, such as masks, to patients and workers at dialysis treatment centers in a letter sent today to Peter Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Rep. Payne is a dialysis patient and he was supported on the letter by Sen. Cory Booker and Reps. Nydia Velazquez, Gregory Meeks, Jeff Van Drew, Andy Kim, Chris Smith, and Albio Sires.  

“As you are aware, many Americans must travel outside their homes for dialysis treatment and can potentially become exposed to COVID-19 in the process,” wrote Rep. Payne, Jr.  “Individuals on dialysis must receive their treatments at least three times a week or they run the risk of serious medical complications, including death. As states and cities impose stay-at-home orders, public transportation options are becoming more difficult and medically risky for patients. We would encourage you to explore adding a temporary transportation benefit for End Stage Renal Disease patients during this crisis to ease this burden.”   

Rep. Payne, Jr. has been working diligently to help get life-saving aid to his constituents and all Americans during this difficult time.  He co-wrote a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a ventilator design that could help supply local hospitals in New Jersey and the rest of the country immediately.  As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response & Recovery of the House Committee on Homeland Security, he has been in constant contact with FEMA officials to press them on when supplies will be available nationwide.  Recently, he asked FEMA to establish a third federally-funded coronavirus testing facility in New Jersey in a letter signed by the entire New Jersey Congressional Delegation.  The Congressman would like to locate it in Essex County, part of his district, because it is second in state coronavirus cases behind Bergen County.  Essex County does have a local testing facility, but it is for residents only. 

In addition, he has supported three coronavirus-related aid bills in the House.  The first one, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074), provided $8.3 billion to fund medical efforts and became law on March 6, 2020.  The second one, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), provided free coronavirus testing for all Americans and mandatory paid sick leave for all workers.  It was signed into law on March 18, 2020. 

The third one and most recent one, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748), provided more than $2 trillion in emergency financial aid to Americans through direct payments, unemployment benefit increases and funds to state and local governments to combat this global public health threat.  The bill would give direct payments of $1,200 to Americans who earn less than $75,000 and $2,400 to families who earn less than $150,000 as well as $500 for each child.  Also, it would provide $349 billion to assist small businesses, $150 billion to state and local governments to help them handle coronavirus-related expenses, and $200 billion to support America’s hospitals and health care workers.    

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