On Oct. 29, APA CEO Arthur Evans Jr., PhD, sent a letter (PDF, 135KB) to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar expressing concerns about recent changes by the Trump administration to COVID-19 data reporting procedures that hospitals must follow. Rather than following existing policy requiring hospitals to report COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the administration now requires reporting of such data to a private entity under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. On Oct. 6, the CDC released enforcement provisions that threatened to cut off hospitals’ Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for non-compliance with this new process.
Evans highlighted the necessity of “accurate and complete data” on COVID-19, given the current rates of infection and deaths, as well as current gaps in reporting data on race and ethnicity. The letter expressed concern that increasing oversight of data collection and reporting “by an agency led by political appointees” would lead to politicization of the data itself, presenting a distorted view of the pandemic to the public to suit a particular political message.
The letter also urged the administration to “affirm support for CDC’s existing surveillance and disease reporting platforms; invest more in building capacity of state, local and tribal jurisdictions; and rely on data and science to drive decision-making.” Evans also called for increased transparency and cross-agency collaboration from the administration concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.