The Obama administration has “absolutely no plans” to transport foreign Ebola patients to be treated in the United States, a senior administration official told The Hill.
While the administration might help move patients from West Africa to other countries, it will not agree to bring patients to the U.S. for treatment, the official said.
“We have discussed allowing other countries to use our MEDEVAC capabilities to evacuate their own citizens to their home countries or third countries, subject to reimbursement and availability,” the official said. “We are not contemplating bringing them back to the U.S. for treatment. Allegations to the contrary are completely false.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.) has questioned whether the administration is contemplating bringing patients to the United States.
He’s written to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Illegal pot farms dry up Western creeks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington Biden confirms 30 percent global methane reduction goal, urges 'highest possible ambitions' MORE and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson about whether the administration has a plan to bring patients to the United States.
Fox News late Tuesday published a memo that it said was from the State Department that called on the U.S. to “show leadership” by “admitting certain non-citizens into the country for medical treatment for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during the Ebola crisis.”
The Washington Times reported that the document was written by Robert Sorenson, deputy director of the State Department's Office of International Health and Biodefense. The four-page document was labeled “sensitive but unclassified — predecisional.”
Germany is the only nation to accept noncitizens for Ebola treatment, while Norway has said it would accept European Union citizens, the document notes, adding that Europe is another “preferable treatment destination for medical reasons.”
“There will also be cases where the United States will be the logical treatment destination for non-citizens,” the document says, noting the State Department has safely transferred some U.S. citizens from West Africa to the United States for treatment.
The document recommends the State Department and the DHS devise a system to transfer foreign Ebola patients to the U.S. as an assurance to other nations looking to send teams to combat the disease, which has killed more than 4,900 people, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the report Wednesday, saying it was "weeks old" and "sitting on a shelf or on a computer."
"The document referenced was drafted by a mid-level official but not cleared by senior leaders. It never came to senior officials for approval," Psaki said, though later she added that she would have to check to see if any department official approved the memo.
Goodlatte in a statement Wednesday called it "alarming" given that "a leaked State Department document shows that such a proposal indeed exists and was approved by Obama Administration officials."
The Times reported that a tracking sheet attached to the document showed that it was cleared by several senior State Department offices, including the deputy secretary of management.
"The internal memo shows that this proposal was approved by several people at the State Department, and possibly even by the official leading the Ebola Coordination Unit at the agency," Goodlatte said.
This story was last updated at 5:49 p.m.