Senator Cites Miss. Case during Appropriations Subcommittee Review of FY23 HHS Budget

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VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Cites Mississippi Case in Questioning HHS Injury Compensation Program.
PHOTO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Questions HHS Secretary Becerra.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing the case of a Mississippi constituent, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today asked Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra about his agency’s lack of transparency and urgency in resolving compensation claims filed by people who experienced severe health reactions from COVID-19 vaccines.

Hyde-Smith addressed the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) process during a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing regarding the FY2023 budget request for the HHS Department.

“I certainly still advocate for the vaccine, and I myself received the vaccine and encourage others to speak with their doctors about receiving it.  However, as with any new medical product, some people will have side effects.  The CICP exists for that very reason.  I am very concerned by the amount of time it takes your agency to process claims and the lack of clarity given to these folks who were adversely affected,” Hyde-Smith told Becerra.

Hyde-Smith cited the case of Cody Flint, an agricultural pilot from Boyle, Miss., who filed a CICP claim after experiencing severe side effects immediately after receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021.  The continued serious health issues have prevented him from returning to his job.

“For more than a year, Mr. Flint has been painstakingly going through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program seeking compensation he may be entitled to based on his experience.  I have worked with him to try to navigate this process, and I have been stunned not only by your agency’s lack of urgency in reviewing such claims, many claims, but also by the total lack of transparency throughout the process,” Hyde-Smith said.  

“He’s totally lost his income,” the Senator added.  “The financial burden is just unbelievable, but the frustration of trying to just get some answers of when something could be done for him for this compensation has been very great.”

Becerra acknowledged the CICP backlog, discussed the need for more transparency, and the required accountability in dealing with cases.  He offered to work with Hyde-Smith on resolving the Flint case.

“We have heard this story on many occasions.  We know that millions have been saved because of the vaccine, but we know many people are still suffering,” Becerra said.

Successfully obtaining CICP compensation, particularly related to COVID-19 countermeasures, is extremely difficult as Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) data indicates.  As of April 1, 2022, of the 7,669 COVID-19 countermeasure claims filed—accounting for more than 90 percent of all CICP claims ever filed—none have received any compensation. 

In March, Hyde-Smith cosponsored the Countermeasure Injury Compensation Amendment Act (S.3810), legislation to reform and improve the CICP process.