The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has shed light on the U.S. healthcare system’s wide range of issues, from accessibility to barriers and social determinants of health. The country must respond with strategies to address future public health emergencies, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee said in an April 2021 letter.
In the letter, HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC), outlined the committee’s plan to improve the country’s public health infrastructure and medical preparedness by reviewing and recommending plans for public health infrastructure, medical emergencies, and response programs at the state and local levels. Specifically, the committee intends to focus on:
- Developing strategies for strengthening and modernizing federal public health preparedness, response systems, and programs to better support states, localities, and tribes
- Ensuring sufficient public health and medical capacity to continue providing critical services to at-risk populations
- Strengthening the medical countermeasure enterprise’s readiness to rapidly identify and advance clinical developments and manufacturing and appropriately deploy them during new public health threats
- Improving and securing the supply chain for the United State’s critical medical supplies needed to swiftly address public health threats
“As we work to end this pandemic, we must not forget the missteps that made it so much more painful for families or fail to take action to be better prepared when the next crisis strikes,” Murray said.
In the letter, both senators said that the committee intends to consider legislative proposals to bring forward a public health and preparedness package in early fall 2021.
“This pandemic isn’t over yet, but now is the time to take stock of the lessons learned over the last year and to begin preparing for the next potential threat,” Burr said. “We need an honest accounting of the successes and shortcomings in our response to the novel coronavirus so we can accurately fill the gaps in our public health architecture.”