Democratic firebrand Rep. Katie Porter on Thursday extracted a commitment from Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Robert Redfield to use his authority under federal regulations to waive the cost of coronavirus testing for all Americans.
"I did the math," said Porter, holding up a whiteboard on which she wrote the associated costs to the total $1,331 bill.
"We live in a world where 40% of Americans can't even afford a $400 unexpected expense," said Porter. "We live in a world where 33% of Americans put off medical treatment last year, and we have $1,133 expense just for testing for the coronavirus."
Noting that the prohibitive expense of the test could discourage poorer Americans from getting tested, Porter demanded Redfield use his legal authority under the Code of Federal Regulations to waive the cost.
Wow. Katie Porter cites law that lets CDC pay for costs of diagnostic testing for anyone when needed. Asks CDC's Redfield if he'll commit to invoke that authority to make it free of charge for anyone. Redfield ducks, but Porter badgers him into saying "Yes."— Michael McAuliff (@mmcauliff) March 12, 2020
After a back and forth in which Porter called Redfield's attempts to avoid committing to covering the cost "not good enough," the California Democrat finally got Redfield to commit to using his authority under 82 CFR 6975 to waive the costs of testing.
Watch the full exchange:
I did the math: a full battery of coronavirus testing costs at minimum $1,331.— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) March 12, 2020
I also did the legal research: the Administration has the authority to make testing free for every American TODAY.
I secured a commitment from a high-level Trump official that they’d actually do it. pic.twitter.com/RmolCtmNbG
Progressives praised the California Democrat's latest standoff with a Trump administration official and noted that Porter and Redfield's exchange had real-world, positive consequences for the country.
"Representative Katie Porter just got CDC director Robert Redfield to commit to making coronavirus testing free for anyone regardless of insurance," tweeted the Atlantic's James Hamblin. "That's big."
Crooked Media's Priyanka Aribindi simply stated her admiration.
"Katie Porter is fucking phenomenal," said Aribindi.