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AAMC Joins Stakeholders Urging Investments in Public Health, Preparedness

June 25, 2021

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Christa Wagner, Senior Legislative Analyst

The AAMC joined other public health, health care, and medical organizations in two letters urging Congress to invest in core public health infrastructure and emergency preparedness, just as the White House and a group of lawmakers sketched out broad outlines of potential bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

A June 22 letter signed by more than 200 stakeholder organizations encouraged House and Senate leaders to include the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act (PHISLA, S. 674) in upcoming infrastructure legislation as a way to “fill long-standing gaps in public health, enable modernization of archaic technologies and systems, and build a foundation for a more effective, efficient public health response to future pandemics.”

The AAMC-supported PHISLA would provide funding for grants through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to jurisdictional health departments, reaching $4.5 billion annually by fiscal year 2026 and beyond [refer to Washington Highlights, March 12]. The funding would be intended to build sustained support for core public health functions including public health assessment, preparedness and response, community partnership development, public communications, and addressing equity.

Also on June 22, the AAMC and 24 other public health and health care organizations sent a letter urging House and Senate leadership to support a proposal included in the president’s American Jobs Plan to invest $30 billion over four years to build resilience against future pandemics [refer to Washington Highlights, April 2].

The letter states, “This new investment should support faster vaccine development and production, a more robust Strategic National Stockpile, increased research regarding possible disease threats, robust public health infrastructure and sequencing technologies, training personnel for epidemic and pandemic response, and related biopreparedness and biosecurity initiatives. The COVID-19 supplemental funds provided to date do not meet these longer-term needs.”

The president announced support on June 24 for a framework negotiated by a bipartisan group of Senators and White House aides to support $579 billion in transportation and other infrastructure, including $47 billion in “resilience” funding and $65 billion for broadband.

Specific public health or health care investments are not highlighted in the materials released, which only include a broad outline of the framework.

Timing and the path forward on legislation to implement the framework are unclear. Shortly after negotiators announced reaching an agreement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters that the House would not consider the bipartisan legislation until it clears the Senate and the Senate passes a reconciliation bill to fund other proposed infrastructure investments.

“Let me be really clear on this,” she said. “We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. If there is no bipartisan bill, then we’ll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill. But I’m hopeful that we would have the bipartisan bill.”

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