FOX 2 - A group of Michigan doctors are calling on state lawmakers to act now on a Covid relief plan. They say the partisan back-and-forth over the governor's multi-billion-dollar proposal is not only a waste of time but it's costing lives.
"As a physician who cares for COVID-19 patients, I'm extremely disappointed that Republican legislators refuse to give healthcare professionals the resources we need to protect people, reduce sickness, and begin the process of safely returning to normal," he said.
"The critical thing is 16,000 people in Michigan have died, more people are dying every day," said Dr. Rob Davidson from the Committee to Protect Medicare. "We don't have enough rapid result testing, we don't have the vaccine distribution funding we need."
But the recovery plan would provide $90 million in federal funds to vaccinate frontline workers, seniors, teachers, and school staff, $575 million for testing and tracing to expand lab capacity to identify outbreaks - plus $2 billion for schools to re-open safely for in-person learning by March 1st.
Republican legislators are proposing far less money for these project. On Tuesday Governor Gretchen Whitmer criticized Republicans for holding up the process.
"The state legislature has not yet appropriated all the dollars that the federal government made available to Michigan and we need them to take action," she said. "These are dollars that came from a bipartisan group of our Congressional delegation and were signed into law by President Trump."
"You cannot nickel and dime your way out of a pandemic," said Dr. Davidson. "Physicians urge Republican legislators who are serious about pandemic relief don't hold any money back - don't cut corners and don't play games with people's lives."
Dr. Farhan Bhatti from the Committee to Protect Medicare, says the time to act on the relief package is now.
People like Dr. Bhatti's own uncle.
"I have an uncle who is in the ICU, dying from Covid," he said. "We don't think he's going to make it and I think about what if he had been able to get a vaccine last month or two months ago.
"We beg and implore the Republicans in the legislature to take action and do what's right for everyone."