U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) earlier this week urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to further promote widespread access to testing and support the ongoing efforts at the state and federal level to reopen the country.

“We understand the significant investments many clinical labs have made to step up during this crisis and increase access to COVID testing despite serious economic hardship,” Rep. Reed said on Monday. “It is only fair that the laboratories who are working diligently to advance the country’s public health needs and support the reopening of our economy receive the aid they require.” 

Specifically, Rep. Reed led 29 other congressmen in requesting that HHS distribute a portion of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) to the clinical laboratories that are expanding the nation’s testing capacity.

“As you are aware, the recently enacted Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act invests $25 billion in the PHSSEF, including $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes, to enhance all aspects of COVID-19 testing capacity. This funding is in addition to the funds already appropriated to the PHSSEF under the CARES Act,” wrote Rep. Reed and his colleagues in a June 8 letter sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. 

“While laboratories are eligible, along with other providers, for these funds, there have been no federal funds specifically designated for the laboratories that have stepped up in this public health crisis and have made significant investments to expand access to COVID-19 testing despite 40-60 percent reductions in regular commercial volume due to the economic lockdowns,” the members wrote.

Rep. Reed and the other lawmakers urged HHS to direct a portion of funding that has not already been allocated toward these efforts, noting that such funds “will ensure that labs can continue to rapidly scale up diagnostic and antibody testing, particularly for healthcare workers, first responders, and other Americans on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

The American Clinical Laboratory Association expressed support for the letter, which also included signatures from U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Andy Barr (R-KY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN).