Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says there would not be support in Congress to extend health care benefits to undocumented workers in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.
Grassley, a Republican who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, says existing law requires hospital emergency rooms to treat anyone who comes through their doors. “That fits in with ignoring the undocumented part of it and says that they’re a human being,” Grassley says, “and one way or another, everybody’s gonna get, that has this virus problem, is going to be treated.”
The European Union is imposing export bans on certain medical supplies to ensure their own countries have enough, while the U.S. has eased import tariffs on some needed medical supplies. At least 20 countries have imposed restrictions on masks, respirators and some medications, including antibiotics. Grassley says for products still coming in, the decision to remove or ease import tariffs should be made on a case-by-case basis.
“For sure, if there’s a shortage we ought to,” he says, “and if there’s not a shortage there probably wouldn’t be a reason to do it.” Grassley cautions that if countries don’t find a coordinated response on exports, a domino effect could leave everyone worse off. He’s encouraged that world leaders from the “Group of Seven” countries are working on a plan. Coronavirus is “disrupting everybody’s lives,” Grassley says, and the Senate’s passed Phase One of a plan to fund federal efforts to tackle the virus, while Phase Two should be passed soon.
“This will help Americans with nutritional assistance, paid and medical family leave, unemployment insurance, tax credits for businesses, testing for the virus, and funding for government efforts to combat the virus,” he says. Grassley says senators and their staff are holding small meetings in large rooms to allow for social distancing and he’s seen a lot more hand sanitizer around the Capitol, and fewer people.
(By Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio)