March 23, 2022

Senate Includes BIO Workforce in PREVENT Pandemics Act

In exciting news, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up its Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act S.3799) to include the BIO Preparedness Workforce Act as a pilot program. It will now be taken up in the Senate. Readers may recall that the Academy joined HIVMA, IDSA, and others in requesting Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) add the BIO bill into the Senate’s large pandemic response bill. The language included in the bill is drafted as such:

Loan repayment for health professionals with expertise in infectious diseases and emergency preparedness and response activities.

  • Who’s eligible:
  • Individual accepted for enrollment, or enrolled, as a student in an accredited institution of higher education in the final semester (or equivalent) of a program leading to a health professions degree or certificate program relevant to such program; or
  • have graduated, during the preceding 10-year period, from an accredited institution of higher education with a health professions degree or certificate program relevant to such program; and
  • be employed by, or have accepted employment with—
(i) a Federal health care facility;
(ii) a nonprofit health care facility in a health professional shortage area, a frontier health professional shortage area, or a medically underserved community;
(iii) an entity receiving assistance under title XXVI (Public Health Services Act HIV HEALTH CARE SERVICES PROGRAM) for the provision of clinical services;
(iv) a health program, or a facility, operated by an Indian Tribe or Tribal organization or by an urban Indian organization; or

v) another relevant entity determined appropriate by the Secretary, as a health professional with expertise in infectious diseases or emergency preparedness and response.

  • The amount of the award has been revised to “as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2025”

While a pilot is not exactly what the HIV advocacy community envisioned, it is a great way to get language into law while we work to preserve the program in the years ahead. The markup can be viewed here with remarks by Sen. Baldwin (D-WI), sponsor of the BIO bill, occurring at about the 2:16 mark. These brief remarks are particularly important since Sen. Baldwin has committed to securing the necessary funding for the pilot program in her role as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Academy remains very involved in advocacy in support of these efforts, so we can ensure loan forgiveness for HIV-related care gets signed into law.

View the latest Policy Update here.