AMA, ACP join groups imploring Congress for more COVID-19 contact tracing, testing funding

An app shows COVID-19 contact tracing app
Several provider groups and stakeholders are asking Congress to include more funding for contact tracing in the next COVID-19 relief package. (Getty/LeoPatrizi)

The American Medical Association (AMA) and other healthcare groups implored congressional leadership to include more funding for COVID-19 contact tracing and testing after published reports the White House is seeking to block such relief.

The AMA and American College of Physicians (ACP) joined a letter (PDF) spearheaded by the advocacy group United States of Care intended to pressure Congress to release more funding to help states stand up contact tracing to track down outbreaks of COVID-19. The letter, released Monday, comes as the Senate returns from a three-week recess and talks for a new relief package are heating up.

“Nearly every state has begun to scale up contact tracing capacity, and we acknowledge the $25 billion included in the CARES Act for these purposes, but states and budget officers across the country worry this number is insufficient,” according to the letter.

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While states are investing in their own resources for testing and tracing, many state budgets have been obliterated by economic shutdowns, the letter added.

“We ask that you act quickly to give states the substantial tools and resources they need to both track the virus and give the public the confidence to participate fully in all the activities which make living in America great,” the groups said.

The letter comes a few days after The Washington Post reported the White House is pushing back on additional funding for testing and contact tracing in the next relief package.

COVID-19 cases have been rising to record levels over the past couple weeks as states such as Florida and Texas reach record-high outbreaks.

The letter also cited reports that Florida has gotten only about 10% of the contact tracers it needs to track the outbreak.

In addition to AMA and ACP, the other signers were the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Pacific Business Group on Health and nonprofit Service Year Alliance.