March 18, 2020
HHS Takes New Action to Cut Red Tape to Support COVID-19 Response
On Wednesday, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched an information collection effort to support the Trump Administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, surveying HRSA-funded health centers on their involvement in the COVID-19 response, including whether they are offering diagnostic tests. This effort was made possible by a Paperwork Reduction Act waiver issued pursuant to statutory authorities that became available as a result of the public health emergency declared by HHS Secretary Alex Azar in late January.
Secretary Azar issued the following statement:
"Reaching out to health centers will give us a better sense of how the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding and what stresses our healthcare system is experiencing as a result. Health centers are on the frontlines of providing accessible, affordable care in many of our communities, and health centers have been and will be playing a vital role in the COVID-19 response. This action under the emergency authorities given to the Secretary of HHS is just the latest example of the Trump Administration cutting red tape that may be impeding the COVID-19 response."
HRSA Administrator Tom Engels issued the following statement:
"HRSA-funded health centers provide high-quality primary care services to 28 million people in the United States. That is 1 in 12 people nationwide. Approximately 1,400 grantees operate 13,000 service delivery sites that are essential to the communities they serve. These health centers are overseen by the people of those communities who play a key role in directing the types of services that are provided. Today's announcement is a strong step to making sure we know what they are going through so HRSA can do all we can to support health centers as they take on the task of responding to COVID-19."
The waiver to the Paperwork Reduction Act granted to HRSA follows other HHS actions to reduce regulatory burdens to support the COVID-19 response: Among other actions, the Food and Drug Administration updated its emergency use authorization policy for COVID-19 diagnostic tests to provide further guidance and more flexibility for the development of diagnostics. On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the HHS Office for Civil Rights, and the HHS Office of Inspector General took comprehensive steps to offer Americans unprecedented access to telehealth options during the crisis.