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June 12, 2019

King, Kaine, Isakson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Modernize Public Health Data Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) introduced the Saving Lives Through Better Data Act to invest in public health data infrastructure. The bipartisan bill aims to improve the nation’s public health data systems to ensure high quality, timely, and accurate information sharing in order to protect the public from health threats including viruses, prescription drug abuse, and other potentially preventable health problems.

“I’m a great believer that you can’t make good policy without good data. Unfortunately, we currently do not have the data we need to make the most effective decisions on how to confront the serious public health threats facing the American people,” said Senator King. “By increasing investments and improving communication across our nation’s public health infrastructure, we can improve health outcomes for the American people and prepare our healthcare system to tackle new threats as they come. Put simply: this legislation would save lives.”

The Saving Lives Through Better Data Act will improve public health data infrastructure by authorizing $100 million each year for fiscal years 2020 through 2024 to:

  • Award grants to public health departments to improve data collection and analysis, simplify provider reporting, and support earlier disease detection and response.
  • Improve interoperability of public health data systems utilized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Develop public-private partnerships to support expansion and modernization of electronic case reporting and public health data systems.
  • Develop a strategy and implementation plan to update and improve CDC’s public health data systems and support improvement of state, local, tribal, and territorial public health data systems.

Senator King has advocated for a number of bills to increase public health and incentivize preventive care to reduce risk factors that can lead to major health problems. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the SMASH Act, a bill authored by Senator King, as part of a larger legislative package addressing disease control. The SMASH ACT will help give states and localities the tools they need to fight back against mosquitos and the viruses they spread. The legislation had previously passed in the Senate, and will next be sent to the President for his signature. In March, he introduced the Senior and Disability Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act, which would make it easier for older Americans and individuals with disabilities to access federal home modification programs and remain in their homes. In addition, Senator King is an original cosponsor of the Preventive Health Savings Act, which would direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive healthcare, including health screenings.

The text of the bill is available here.

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