October 27, 2021

BIO Preparedness Act Included in House Workforce Hearing

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee held a hearing on “Caring for America: Legislation to Support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers” that included the newly introduced bipartisan Bolstering Infectious Outbreaks (BIO) Preparedness Workforce Act (H.R. 5602), as well as six other bills. Sponsored by Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) and David McKinley (R-WV-01), the BIO bill will help to build the next generation of infectious disease experts who will prepare for and respond to emerging health threats, including physicians, pharmacists, advanced practice providers, laboratory professionals, infection preventionists and dentists. The legislation also would help to address the critical workforce shortage in HIV clinical care for providers who deliver HIV treatment in a designated health professional shortage area or a clinical site funded under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. The witness testifying in support of the bill was Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, an IDSA Board member and Infectious Diseases Division Chief at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Dr. Marrazzo’s testimony can be found here.

Readers will recall that the Academy has been working to advance the HELP Act, a similar, narrower bill that would create a loan forgiveness program for specialists who go into HIV care in areas in which they’re most needed. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), the HELP Act’s sponsor, is also a member of the subcommittee and used her time to ask Dr. Marrazzo questions about the ways in which the BIO bill can also help to achieve a diverse and culturally competent workforce that reflects the populations most impacted. The BIO Preparedness Act encapsulates the HELP Act’s provisions and prioritizes a diverse workforce, while expanding the bill’s reach by also including infectious diseases specialists and those who dedicate a certain percentage of their time toward bio-preparedness efforts. Rep. Trahan’s press release on the BIO bill can be viewed here.

The Academy is committed to advancing both pieces of legislation, but more immediately will be working toward Senate introduction of the BIO Preparedness Act. There is not yet a Senate sponsor for the HELP Act. The Academy’s press release can be viewed here.

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