WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) are calling for Congress to correct discrepancies that have caused small and rural states to receive significantly less funding for vaccine and testing than originally estimated. Unfortunately, funding allocated in December for vaccines and testing was distributed in a formula that resulted in small and rural states receiving inequitably low allocations of resources.
In a letter to the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Senators Heinrich and Luján call for a more equitable allocation formula to accommodate the needs of small and rural states that continue to face unique challenges in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Failure to provide small and rural states – like New Mexico - with the necessary resources will only prolong this pandemic for the entire country.
The senators wrote, “Smaller and more rural states face unique challenges in providing accessible testing, and in the distribution and administration of vaccinations. These resources are critical to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, to provide for the vaccination of as much of the population as possible as quickly as possible. This issue is of paramount importance to our constituents. We are united as a nation in our efforts to end this pandemic. We can only accomplish this by ensuring that small and rural states, too, are provided the resources needed to support their populations. We stand ready to work with you to address this inequity immediately.”
Read the full letter, led by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), by clicking here.
Senators Heinrich and Luján continue to work with the new Biden administration to ramp up an equitable vaccine distribution in New Mexico. Both Senators Heinrich and Luján had previously implored the Trump administration to work and communicate with state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, vaccine and PPE manufacturers, public health experts, and health care providers to develop a plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.
President Biden has also signed an Executive Order to use the Defense Production Act to boost production of vaccines, testing, and personnel equipment to help ensure that the U.S. and states like New Mexico have what it needs to successfully combat COVID-19.