COVID-19 Related Legislation
Preventing critical drug shortages caused by global supply chain disruptions
In early March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first U.S. drug shortage related to factory shutdowns and shipping problems in China due to the coronavirus outbreak, exacerbating the strain placed on America's health care system due to existing drug shortages.
The Preventing Drug Shortages Act would help mitigate these shortages by enhancing transparency throughout the drug supply chain process and strengthening FDA interagency efforts to fend off drug shortages. The bill would also empower the FDA to enforce greater reporting standards on drug and active pharmaceutical ingredient makers to identify and correct vulnerabilities in their supply chains.
This bill was made law as part of the CARES Act in March.
Mitigating potential health care premium spikes
The projected health care costs associated with providing medical care for patients with COVID-19 will be enormous. Because insurers base premiums each year on estimated average health care costs of enrollees, it is difficult to gauge exactly how much more Americans will have to pay for coverage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, experts project health insurance premium prices for next year could increase anywhere between 4 to 40 percent.
The Stop Health Premium Spikes Act would temper these unpredictable premium hikes for consumers by establishing a stop-loss program through Health and Human Services (HHS.) The bill makes insurance companies selling health care plans to individual and small group markets for 2020 and 2021 set accurate premiums during this time of immense uncertainty. The two-year program would provide assistance to insurers facing singificant losses in order to minimize spikes in premium pricing and maintain a competitive, stable insurance marketplace.
This bill passed the House as part of the Heroes Act in May.
Awareness about the importance of plasma donations as a livesaving treatment
Research shows that individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their blood's plasma that can attack the virus. The use of convalescent plasma is being evaluated as a possible treatment, and may lead to a more rapid recovery for COVID-19 patients. The U.S. Government supports a national expanded access program to collect and provide convalescent plasma to patients in need, and the continued donation of plasma could help save the lives of more individuals battling this disease
The Plasma Donation Awareness Act, introduced in July, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a public awareness campaign about the importance of convalescent plasma donations.
Using data to support test reporting systems and pandemic response efforts
Tracing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 requires organized data systems to support response efforts. The risks of decentralized systems can be dangerous to medical professionals and researchers by providing misleading information about the true scope of this pandemic. California, for example, faces critical problems due to the lack of a streamlined reporting and tracking system. The absence of reliable infection rate data has even made counties add disclaimers on their public health websites to notify readers of lacking updates, undermining public trust.
The Health STATISTICS Act of 2020 would require HHS to share timely, accurate, and actionable public health information collected by the Department of Health and Human Services with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other public health agencies, and the public, to the extent possible while preserving individual privacy. The bill also requires the CDC, in collaboration with relevant agencies, to designate data and technology standards in order to streamline data reporting and collection requirements for public health reporting entities.