The State Department insisted Wednesday that it has no plans to allow non-U.S. citizen Ebola victims to be treated in the United States, after a memo surfaced this week indicating that at least some officials in the department were considering that policy.
The stated purpose of the memo was to consider treating non-U.S. citizens in the U.S. in order to "show leadership" in the fight against Ebola. It also recommended that some system be devised to allow some people to receive treatment in the United States.
An International Federation of Red Cross senior officer responsible for emergency health inspects protection clothes during a pre-deployment training for IFRC and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres staff heading to Ebola area on October 29, 2014 at the IFRC headquarters in Geneva. West Africa is the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak which has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI
But the memo itself notes it is a "pre-decisional" document, and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it was never cleared by senior decision-makers.
"The document referenced was drafted by a mid-level official, but not cleared by senior leaders," she said. "It never came to senior officials for approval, and any assertion that the memo was cleared by decision-makers is inaccurate."
"There are no plans to 'medevac' non-Americans who become ill with Ebola to the United States," she added.
Psaki said there is no need for any such policy at this point, as several European countries have said they would take certain people who might need urgent medical care due to Ebola.
"[T]he memo isn't current because our European partners have addressed this matter by providing their own guarantees," she said.
But while she indicated the idea has outlived its usefulness, she also stressed that it has not been formally rejected as a policy either.
"It was never discussed at any level, in any serious level with decision-makers, so I wouldn't say it was discarded," she said.
Earlier this week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) indicated he had seen the memo, and was pushing for more information about whether the plan would take effect.