Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee today released for comment until Feb. 4 a discussion draft of bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a committee summary, the PREVENT Pandemics Act would:
- create a bipartisan task force to review the COVID-19 response;
- require a strategic plan for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Senate to confirm the agency’s director;
- give the Secretary of Health and Human Services additional authority to coordinate the federal response to a public health emergency, and contract with public and private entities to more rapidly develop diagnostic tests for emerging infectious diseases;
- direct the CDC director to disseminate standards to improve the exchange of public health data and reporting;
- establish a “warm-base” domestic manufacturing surge capacity for medical countermeasures;
- require the HHS secretary to report regularly on the contents of the Strategic National Stockpile and ensure items are in working condition;
- award funds to recruit and train community health workers;
- require HHS to report to Congress on ways to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services during an emergency;
- create an “advanced platform technology” designation to speed development and review of new treatments and countermeasures;
- require makers of certain critical medical devices to maintain a redundancy risk management plan; and
- create a pilot program to develop novel manufacturing approaches for critical drugs, among other provisions.
The committee will accept feedback on the discussion draft by email at HELPPandemicbill@help.senate.gov.