Leahy Leads Senators In Call For Equitable Access To Vaccines And Testing For Small And Rural States To Combat The COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, Feb. 9, 2021) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuesday led a group of Senators representing small and rural states in calling for Congress to fix discrepancies that have caused small and rural states to receive significantly less funding for vaccine and testing than originally estimated.  Small and rural states face unique challenges in addressing this pandemic.  Unfortunately, funding allocated in December for vaccines and testing was distributed in a formula that resulted in small and rural states receiving inequitably low allocations of resources.

Joining Leahy in sending the letter were Senators Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Bernard Sanders (Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Maize Hirono (Hawaii), Jack Reed (R.I.), Tom Carper (Del.), Margaret Wood Hassan (N.H.), Christopher A. Coons (Del.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Ben Raj Luján (N.M.), and Martin Heinrich (N.M.).

The Senators wrote:  “Smaller and more rural states face unique challenges in providing accessible testing, and in the distribution and administration of vaccinations.  These resources are critical to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, to provide for the vaccination of as much of the population as possible as quickly as possible.  This issue is of paramount importance to our constituents.  We are united as a nation in our efforts to end this pandemic.  We can only accomplish this by ensuring that small and rural states, too, are provided the resources needed to support their populations.  We stand ready to work with you to address this inequity immediately.”

In the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act signed into law in December, small and rural states received significantly less funding for testing and vaccination than expected due to a population-based formula that does not accommodate the unique challenges faced by small and rural states.  In their letter, the Senators call for a more equitable allocation formula to accommodate these needs.  Failing to provide small and rural states with the necessary resources will only prolong this pandemic for the entire country.

Their full letter can be found HERE.

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