March 13, 2020


Continues to put vulnerable populations first in COVID-19 response

Washington, D.C. – As the COVID-19 outbreak extends into new communities, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today called on Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to revoke any rules that would threaten access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, front load benefits to help families prepare for quarantines, and work with public and private sector partners to utilize food delivery programs. Building on those efforts, he also joined the Massachusetts delegation in calling on Sec. Perdue to halt the rulemaking process for three rules that would threaten access to food assistance for millions of Americans.

“In the wealthiest nation on earth, no one should go hungry, not during a public health pandemic, not ever. This Administration has worked tirelessly to restrict access to food assistance programs for millions of families in every corner of this country and that must end today. But more than just ending their harmful policies, they should take proactive measures to ensure no bureaucratic barriers leave anyone, citizen or not, hungry as we fight back against this coronavirus outbreak.”

Kennedy's COVID-19 response

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Congressman Kennedy has fought for vulnerable populations. This week, he called on Speaker Pelosi to increase funding for community health centers, first responders, and incarcerated individuals, specifically that any testing or treatment in prisons be provided without co-pays and demanded the Administration ensure testing and treatment for the virus is provided at no cost to patients.

In early February, long before others were raising concerns with access to testing, he sent a letter to the CDC with Congressman Derek Kilmer and Senator Patty Murray demanding the agency quickly get tests to states, particularly states with confirmed cases like Massachusetts. When the Trump Administration decided to use critical heating aid funding to fund their initial overdue and underwhelming response, he led a letter to Congressional appropriators urging them to restore LIHEAP funding, which was included in the initial emergency response package. Afterwards, he directly confronted Sec. Azar about covering the costs associated with testing and treatment for un- and underinsured patients, as well as the continuous misleading statements from the President. Continuing his efforts to advocate for the most vulnerable populations, he called on Congressional Leadership to increase funding for community health centers and convened an emergency roundtable with state and local health leaders at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center the very next day. After learning that the supplemental package passed by Congress last week did not guarantee telemedicine to Medicaid patients, he sent a bipartisan letter to CMS Administrator Verma demanding that she work with states to cover all telemedicine services for the 71 million Americans covered by Medicaid and CHIP. He has also joined Senator Warren and members of the delegation to ensure the Massport was prepared for an outbreak and ensuring the state’s needs were being met by the Administration.

Beyond what he’s done in Washington, he has focused on outreach back home. He’s coordinated his response with mayors and other elected officials in his district, hospital leaders, state officials and other State House leaders to hear what they need to best respond back home – and is working to push the FDA to quickly approve COVID-19 tests based on those conversations. He wrote an e-newsletter including critical prevention information last week that was seen by more than 40,000 people. And yesterday morning, he held a Facebook Live with a former acting Surgeon General to answer questions from concerned constituents which already has well over 50,000 views.


For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2020

Dan Black (202) 225-5931