April 15, 2020

KENNEDY TO CMS: STOP STALLING AND RELEASE DEMOGRAPHIC DATA

Newton, MA – In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today demanded that Administrator Seema Verma stop stalling and release any and all demographic data collected by the Administration so far. Building on his calls for the release of data at the state level, Kennedy reiterated that every day without critical information will further delay the proactive policies needed to address the racial and ethnic disparities of the COVID-19 response.

“A week ago, Seema Verma told the public that she would publicly release demographic data regarding COVID-19 and yet we’ve received nothing but silence since. This Administration has made a habit of disregarding vulnerable patient populations for years, and in the midst of a global health pandemic, it’s sad but not shocking that this mentality has persisted. Administrator Verma needs to stop stalling and release all of the data that this Administration holds today.”

Kennedy’s full letter can be found below.

Dear Administrator Verma,

I am writing today to demand that you immediately release all demographic data the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has on the impact of COVID-19. It is increasingly clear that Black and Latinx communities are bearing the brunt of this pandemic and we need information now to confront this emerging tragedy today. 

Like most other crises, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities. Recent data has shown that while African Americans make up a smaller percentage of the population in Michigan (14 percent), they make up 33 percent of COVID-19 cases and 41 percent of deaths. In states like Louisiana, which is 32.7 percent African American, they are a startling 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Early insight from Massachusetts suggests our Commonwealth is not immune to these disparities.

A week ago, you stated that CMS would soon be analyzing and releasing demographic data so “we can look at race as a factor… [and] the underlying health issues as well”. As we respond in real-time to this threat, it is absolutely critical that we have this data to understand exactly where, how, and why these disparities persist. However, CMS has not provided this information and apparently has not indicated this as a priority. There is no greater priority than saving lives, and having this data at our disposal will enable us to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized communities.

It is essential that we remedy this now, not only to correct injustice, but to curb a pandemic that shows no signs of abating any time soon. I ask that you immediately report all COVID-19 demographic information available to CMS so we can respond in real time.Waiting weeks and months to begin the reporting of demographic data is too late.

###

For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2020

Contact:
Dan Black (202) 225-5931