CDC reduced to asking "Mother may I?" & asking insurers for help in getting COVID data

As I noted last month, as we've reached the 3rd anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting U.S. shores and with the Public Health Emergency winding down, it's become more & more difficult for data analysts and researchers to acquire comprehensive, county-level data about cases, hospitalizations, deaths, vaccinations and so forth.

In particular, at least three major sources of this data have either announced that they're shutting down their data tracking projects or have already done so, including Johns Hopkins University, the White House COVID-19 Community Profile Report and the New York Times.

With two of these already discontinued and the third set to do so within the next few weeks, this story is somehow even more depressing to me (via Robert King at Fierce Healthcare; h/t Katherine Hempstead for the heads up):

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra asked a room full of insurers—a group he has clashed with in recent weeks—for help convincing states to share key health data. 

Becerra spoke Tuesday during AHIP’s 2023 Medicare, Medicaid, Duals & Commercial Markets Forum in Washington, D.C., on a range of topics. The HHS secretary specifically called for insurers to help him to convince states on sharing data after the agency’s mandatory authority goes away with the COVID-19 public health emergency that ends May 11.

“Right now, only because of the PHE were we able to collect data from states and help us determine where the gaps were and where the growing disparities were when it came to COVID,” Becerra said. “With the PHE coming down, we lose those authorities to require states to provide us that data and now we have to depend on their goodwill.

The PHE gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the power to mandate labs report test results for COVID-19. This authority goes away at the end of the emergency, and HHS will rely instead on voluntary data use agreements.

“Fortunately, the vast majority of the states have signed data use agreements,” Becerra said. “Some states are trying to get there but have issues with their privacy laws.”