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An effective COVID-19 response has been hamstrung by the Trump administration's years-long efforts to gut our public health infrastructure

Washington, DC — After years of weakening our public health infrastructure, the Trump administration’s policies are now severely undermining an effective response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is what you need to know about how the Trump administration's policies hamstrung the preparedness of our public health infrastructure and made it much more difficult for providers and regular people to respond to a global health care crisis.

Statement from Jacqueline Ayers, Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

The Trump administration's half-measure response to the coronavirus pandemic is a direct result of years of the administration and their political allies undermining our public health infrastructure. Among their countless attacks on public health, this administration sabotaged the Affordable Care Act that expanded health care coverage to millions of people, made it much more difficult for people to get and keep health insurance, and attacked safety net programs like SNAP and Medicaid that keep people healthy. These actions were unconscionable at the time they were proposed, and we're seeing their impact now as communities across the country grapple with how to protect residents and ensure that COVID-19 testing and treatment is accessible and affordable. This is why we need to double down on health care —  expand access and build up our public health infrastructure, and put in place policies that include protection for health care workers — for both long term stability and response to crises.

Get the facts: 

FACT: After the White House’s top official in charge of response to a global pandemic left the administration, the White House did not fill the role and instead disbanded the National Security Council’s entire global health security team.

FACT: The Trump administration assigned leadership of its coronavirus response to Vice President Mike Pence, who exacerbated a devastating HIV outbreak as governor of Indiana because he had personal “moral” objections to CDC-approved measures like providing clean syringes.

FACT: The Trump administration sabotaged the Affordable Care Act by drastically curbing enrollment assistance, allowing junk health insurance plans on the marketplaces, and reducing the number of people who have health insurance today. The Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit that could gut the protections and coverage established by the ACA. In addition, state politicians across the county have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of people without needed health insurance.

FACT: The Trump administration pushed for Medicaid work requirements, an additional barrier to health insurance that is proven to kick tens of thousands of people off their health care. Women, particularly women of color, are significantly more likely to lose coverage as a result of these work requirements. 

FACT: The Trump administration attempts to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood health centers in any way they can, including their Title X gag rule that forced Planned Parenthood out of the nation’s only dedicated affordable birth control program. The administration also encourages states to block people with Medicaid from accessing Planned Parenthood health centers. Many communities already have extreme health care provider shortages, and Planned Parenthood is often the only trusted provider. We’re in the midst of urgent public health crises — not just coronavirus but also the opioid epidemic and extremely high rates of STIs — we need a strong public health safety net, not fewer trusted providers in our communities.

FACT: The Trump administration's cruel public charge rule was designed to keep immigrant families from accessing health care and basic needs. Experts believe that the rule could weaken America’s response to COVID-19 by preventing immigrant families from seeking health care.

FACT: The Trump administration proposed gutting CDC funding by 16 percent in the FY21 Budget, even amidst the early warning signs of a global pandemic. In fact, despite the rising threat to public health, top Trump officials continue to irresponsibly defend the agency cuts. There is no fiscal reason that could justify stripping down the nation’s life-saving health care infrastructure when we need it the most.

FACT: The Trump administration proposed a budget for FY21 that would slash funding for Health and Human Services (HHS) health care programs, including over $900 billion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years. Without access to safety-net health care coverage, many people with low incomes or people who live in rural areas will have no options to cover the cost of care, leading to delayed testing and treatment for the deadly virus. The Trump administration stacked HHS with anti-abortion idealogues like Secretary Alex Azar, who spent his time going on TV to tout his anti-abortion agenda while confirmed cases of COVID-19 were on the rise.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.