U.S. Sen.Bob Casey

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, lead Congressional sponsor for Showcase for Commerce, gives an interview Thursday, May 30, 2019, inside the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown.

Medical treatment for any United States citizen who contracts COVID-19 should be free in order to encourage those patients to seek care knowing they will not incur a financial burden, according to Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Casey, a Democrat, thinks that step could help slow the coronavirus pandemic.

“In this crisis, nobody should go broke or suffer financially because of the cost of treating COVID-19,” Casey said during a conference call on Friday afternoon. “So we should enact into law automatic Medicaid coverage for the cost of COVID treatment.

The federal government pays every penny of it for those who need help. No reason why we shouldn’t do it. And if we’re going to have a big package (it should) make it clear that if you have COVID-19 you shouldn’t pay a God damn dime for treatment, especially if you’re a low-income family or a middle-income family. There’s no reason why any family should have to shell out money to pay for a virus that landed on their doorstep through no fault of their own.

“The federal government has plenty of money to do this, and we should do it.”

Free treatment was one of four proposals made by Casey.

The others would:

• Allow participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive home delivery of groceries.

• Spend $4 billion in emergency funding toward childcare with an emphasis on those working in front-line health care professions.

• Direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to open 30-day enrollment periods for health coverage and take actions to prevent price gouging.

He would like to see the provisions enacted in the third piece of federal coronavirus relief legislation that is being developed.

“We have to keep a focus in this big piece of legislation – the biggest bill probably any of us will work on for the next 10 years and the prior 10 years – we’ve got to focus on workers, we’ve got to focus on families, and kids, and obviously seniors and people with disabilities, the most vulnerable among us. It’s an important moment to prioritize those who often are left out of the debates in Washington,” Casey said. “The big guys are coming through the front door.

“And I get it – the airlines, some big companies, all the rest. But it’s about time we had families, and seniors, and people with disabilities and kids come in the front door as well, instead of having to bang the door down, while the big guys have been at the trough early.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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