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Video: In Midst Of Coronavirus Outbreak, Kaine Criticizes Administration For Health Care Cuts, Asks About Servicemembers In Italy And South Korea

WASHINGTON, D.C.— In a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine called for close collaboration with health experts and scientists as the government works to contain the emerging threat of the novel coronavirus. Kaine criticized the Trump Administration for proposing cuts to public health funding and attempting to eliminate the Affordable Care Act in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. President Trump’s budget request slashes the U.S. contribution to the World Health Organization by 53 percent, cuts funds to CDC and HHS by 9 percent, and cuts NIH funding by 7 percent. Kaine also asked what measures are being taken to protect servicemembers who are deployed in Italy and South Korea, where there are thousands of coronavirus cases.

“It does not seem to be a wise time to take a scalpel or a meat axe to the public health infrastructure,” Kaine said. “The budget contains significant cuts to Medicaid, and although it’s described somewhat euphemistically, it’s pretty clear that the Medicaid cuts are going to cut people in states that have adopted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. And the Administration is right now in courts- as they’ve been every day in this Administration- trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will take up a case later this year. It is not a good time, it is not a good time to take a meat axe or a scalpel to the public health infrastructure. It is not a good time to scare people about whether or not they’re going to have health insurance. I’m not sure there is a good time to do that, but you could not do it at a worse time when you’re doing it as people are concerned about a pandemic.”


“Let me ask about a population that is of significant concern in Virginia and everybody here, which is the military. We don’t have a DoD person here but I know you must be working in tandem. We have a lot of Virginians who are deployed at Vicenza, Italy. We have a lot of Virginians who are deployed in South Korea. We have a lot of Virginians deployed in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy. So just thinking of two of the countries who have been mentioned as places where there is significant coronavirus. My understanding is at least at the Vicenza base, families are being urged to stay on base. Talk a little bit about your interaction – any of you who kind of deal with this – your interaction with the DoD. Are we likely to see more of this? Is there a sort of quarantine or ‘stay on the base’ in South Korea? Are we likely to see it in Germany?” Kaine asked.