Senate HELP Committee Leaders Introduce Legislation to Combat Bioterrorism and Pandemics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statements regarding the introduction of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018, a bill to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act:

“This legislation holds true to the spirit of our initial law, supporting a nimble, flexible, and fast approach to the threats we are facing, whether they are naturally occurring or the result of a deliberate attack on our country,” said Senator Burr. “I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that underscores the daily urgency needed to prepare for and respond to these threats, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this critical piece of legislation through the Senate.”

“This reauthorization bill makes important improvements to our public health and health care preparedness programs, and will help strengthen our communities’ ability to respond to the full range of public health threats,” Senator Casey said. “I am pleased to work in a bipartisan manner again on this legislation to support our nation’s preparedness and response capabilities, and I look forward to swift action in the Senate on this vital bill.”

“After a deadly hurricane season, Americans want to know we are better prepared to face public health threats—whether that’s natural disasters, flu outbreaks, or bioterror attacks,” said Senator Alexander. “This bipartisan proposal, led by Senators Burr and Casey, takes the next step toward ensuring we are able to better protect Americans from 21st century threats by strengthening our preparedness and response capabilities to ensure we are ready for the full range of public health threats we may face. The Senate health committee will consider and seek to approve this bill next Wednesday, so the full Senate can consider it before many programs expire at the end of September.”

“In order to respond effectively to keep families safe from pandemics and other public health threats when they strike, we need to have a strong national framework prepared and ready well before they strike.” said Senator Murray. “I’m glad this bipartisan bill builds on our past efforts to do just that, and includes additional steps to help us prepare against emerging threats by bolstering critical work to combat antimicrobial resistance and ensuring that we are doing as much as we can to keep all families safe. This is an important bill to protect our communities against serious health threats, and I’m going to keep working with my colleagues across the aisle to make sure we get this done.”

Background Information:

The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) was enacted in 2006 and reauthorized in 2013 to establish and build upon a framework for responses to public health threats that may result in a public health emergency. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI) includes policies to build on the existing PAHPA framework, updating these programs to address 21st century threats by:

  • Updating the National Health Security Strategy to ensure our planning for public health emergencies remains focused on the full range of threats we face.
  • Strengthening our emergency response workforce.
  • Encouraging a regionalized approach to our healthcare response, so that communities across the country are able to utilize their local resources in an organized and effective fashion in the event of an outbreak or attack.
  • Advancing situational awareness and biosurveillance capabilities to better monitor potential threats that could result in a public health emergency.
  • Updating and aligning the term “at-risk individual” across the PAHPA framework to ensure consistency in considerations for all members of our communities.
  • Strengthening the PAHPA framework to encourage the consideration of children prior to, during, and after a public health emergency.
  • Ensuring a threat-based focus for the medical countermeasures (MCMs) purchased under the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • Fostering innovation in MCM advanced research and development.
  • Providing greater certainty and predictability across the MCM enterprise to encourage MCM development to address 21st Century threats.

You can find a section-by-section of the legislation here.