WASHINGTON, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) sent a letter to Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to call for a hearing on mental health.
With a wide range of jurisdiction over the health sector and federal agencies directly involved in the response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee has a responsibility to actively examine through hearings how to improve efforts to fight COVID-19, as well as conduct oversight as resources provided by Congress are being deployed.
Today, Burgess called on Eshoo to hold a hearing to examine the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Americans’ mental health. One recent report projected that the pandemic could cause 150,000 American deaths by suicide and substance abuse. Mental health care reform is an issue the Energy and Commerce Committee has prioritized and addressed through legislation, including the 21st Century Cures Act and Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn have significantly impacted the mental health and wellbeing of all Americans. Since the beginning of this pandemic, 45 percent of Americans have reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted by recent events. Reports have found that declines in the economy, lost jobs, and health challenges have all contributed to an increase in mental health difficulties,” Burgess wrote.
Like mental health, there are many opportunities to conduct essential work on bipartisan issues to improve response efforts to this pandemic that is claiming lives. However, the Health Subcommittee is using time and resources this week to conduct a partisan hearing on a whistleblower complaint that was only made public days ago, rather than examine urgent issues like COVID-19’s detrimental impacts on mental health.
“If we ignore mental illness and SUD [substance use disorder], the growing unemployment, economic downturn, social isolation, and uncertainty over a lack of a definitive end date to the pandemic will likely increase these deaths of despair,” continued Burgess.
Again, all whistleblowers should be heard, and there are mechanisms to conduct thorough nonpartisan investigations. The committee should let that process work.
CLICK HERE to read the letter.
Burgess is encouraging Eshoo to hold hearings on time sensitive and bipartisan issues to help the American people overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 8, 2020 Burgess requested Eshoo to hold a hearing on the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).