Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Health Committee, announced that large portions of legislation she helped author to strengthen the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems were signed into law as part of the year-end government funding bill. The Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act) was sponsored by Health Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) and included key provisions authored by Senator Collins.
“The past three years have clearly demonstrated that we must work to ensure that our country is better prepared for future epidemics and pandemics,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation represents an important step forward that will address a number of shortcomings that were exposed during our nations’ response to COVID-19. It will also strengthen our public health systems and better protect our communities.”
The omnibus includes portions of the PREVENT Pandemics Act that will, among other provisions, improve strategy and coordination among our public health preparedness agencies; strengthen the supply chain and government stockpiles of medical products, such as masks, drugs, vaccines, and tests; and authorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to accelerate innovation in health and medicine by investing in novel, broadly applicable, high-risk, high-reward research projects.
The legislation includes sections that Senator Collins authored or co-led that will:
- Increase Domestic Manufacturing of Generic Medicines. Language authored by Senator Collins authorizing a feasibility study regarding how to reward domestic production of certain generic medicines and their active pharmaceutical ingredients through federal health care programs.
- Increase Domestic Manufacturing of Medical Supplies. Language authored by Senator Collins to require that federal funds used to implement the pilot program for state-based stockpiles of medical supplies conform with the domestic preference requirements of the Buy America Act.
- Expand Public Health Workforce. The Strengthening the Public Health Workforce Act, legislation authored by Senators Collins and Tina Smith (D-MN), which reauthorizes and improves the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program to help expand the public health workforce at the state, local, and tribal levels and support the COVID-19 response effort.
- Student Loan Relief for Health Professionals. The BIO Preparedness Workforce Act, legislation authored by Senators Collins and Tammy Baldwin (D-MN), which establishes a Bio-Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program to provide for loan repayment for health professionals with expertise in infectious diseases and emergency preparedness and response activities to ensure an adequate supply of such professionals.
- Improve HHS Preparedness. Language authored by Senator Collins creating a leadership exchange pilot program to provide for two-year fellowships, details, or other relevant placements with federal agencies or state or local health departments that will help employees in HHS leadership gain field experience and develop public health and medical preparedness expertise.
- Alleviate Drug Shortages. The Drug Shortages Shelf Life Extension Act, legislation authored by Senators Collins and Ben Cardin (D-MD), which directs the FDA to extend the shelf life of prescription drugs in scarce supply.
- Strengthen Requirements for Foreign Manufacturers. The Registration of Certain Foreign Establishments Act, legislation authored by Senators Collins and Gary Peters (D-MI), which would strengthen requirements for foreign manufacturers of medical products that are distributed in the United States to register with the FDA.
- Increase Behavioral Health Resources. The Securing Uninterrupted Pandemic Preparation of Resources & Therapies (SUPPORT) Act, legislation authored by Senators Collins and Ben Ray Luján, which will strengthen the federal government’s mission to ensure the nation is prepared to address the behavioral health needs that follow natural and human-caused disasters and emergent events, including public health emergencies.