Some Republican lawmakers have been motivated to push the Biden administration for information after a video surfaced that shows a man being refused monoclonal antibody therapy for a COVID infection based on his race.
13 House Republicans joined Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in a letter to Joe Biden’s Health Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding clarification on the administration’s allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments around the country.
Roy previously wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services asking if there was a “current or expected shortage” of any treatments anywhere in the country. Republicans have said that neither HHS nor the administration ever answered.
In the new letter sent on Tuesday, the House Republicans said that HHS has disregarded its earlier promises for transparency regarding COVID-19 treatments and has left questions about the supply chain unanswered. The letter went on to say that the lawmakers have heard about persons being refused treatments, with an instance of a Texas man being denied “based on the color of his skin.”
The letter also cites the agency’s Current Emergency Use Authorization guidelines that prioritize monoclonal treatment for high-risk persons with “race or ethnicity” included criteria.
The video referred to in the letter was taken by Harrison Hill Smith, a blogger from Texas who describes himself as a “Constitutional Extremist and Libertarian Nationalist.” He claims that he was denied treatment because of his race.
Denied medical service because of my race. pic.twitter.com/FgtO3oiSPG
— Harrison Hill Smith (@Harrison_of_TX) November 13, 2021
Hill says that the video shows his interaction with a healthcare worker from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. He says that he is told he cannot receive monoclonal antibody treatment because of eligibility criteria. Hill is said that because he is under 65 and has no comorbidities, he cannot receive treatment. Hill asks if he would be eligible if he were “black or Hispanic,” The worker responds, “that’s right.”
In September, the Biden administration announced that it was taking over the distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments nationwide to maintain “equity” in allocating available doses.
The letter sent by the House Republicans asks Becerra to explain the rationing based on race or other criteria if there is no existing or expected shortage of treatments. It adds that refusing care based on race raises issues about violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.