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Kaine, Duckworth, Markey Introduce Treat Long COVID Act to Expand Access to Treatment

Legislation will expand access to long COVID clinics to treat patients in their own communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Tammy Duckworth, and Edward J. Markey introduced the Targeting Resources for Equitable Access to Treatment for Long COVID (TREAT Long COVID) Act to increase access to medical care and treatment for individuals struggling with long COVID. The first-of-its-kind bill will fund the expansion of long COVID clinics and empower health care providers—including community health centers and local public health departments—to treat long COVID patients in their own communities. Companion legislation was introduced by Congressman Don Beyer and Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Lisa Blunt Rochester in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“After talking to Virginians living with long COVID and meeting with medical providers across the Commonwealth, it’s clear we must do more to help people dealing with the long-term impacts of the virus,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to support the TREAT Long COVID Act to ensure long COVID clinics have access to critical resources.”

“Even if COVID-19 disappeared tomorrow, millions of Americans who contracted this disease—including people of color who continue to bear the brunt of this pandemic—would continue to suffer from long COVID, with symptoms ranging from heart palpitations to brain fog,” said Senator Duckworth. “A holistic approach to treatment is absolutely necessary, particularly for those communities who face the harshest barriers to obtaining healthcare. That’s one of the reasons why, as Democrats continue our work to make sure people have access to tests, vaccines and therapeutics, I’m proud to introduce the TREAT Long COVID Act with Senators Markey and Kaine and Congresswoman Pressley. It would help all those living with long COVID gain better access to medical care and treatment options in their communities so we can help save lives and make sure no one is left behind on the road to recovery.”

“As we’ve learned, COVID-19 presents itself differently in different patients - some are asymptomatic, and others have serious and even fatal complications. This wide range of health impacts from COVID-19 is also true for patients dealing with Long COVID,” said Senator Markey. “There is no one-size-fits all approach to Long COVID treatment, which is why we must expand access to comprehensive, individualized care. The TREAT Long COVID Act provides funding for multidisciplinary Long COVID clinics, helping ensure patients are at the center of our approach to this illness that impacts so many.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with long COVID may experience a combination of symptoms, ranging from extreme fatigue and cognitive dysfunction or “brain fog,” to muscle pain and gastrointestinal issues, to difficulty breathing, insomnia, and heart palpitations. Although there is no official count of people suffering from long COVID, a conservative estimate of only ten percent of documented COVID-19 survivors could mean nearly 8 million people are impacted across the United States. Currently, there is no federal program focused on expanding treatment options for this unique and growing population. The absence of specialized support contributes to patients experiencing greater physical and mental anguish, disruption in employment and education, and reduced quality of life.

The TREAT Long COVID Act would expand treatment for long COVID nationwide by:

  • Authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants up to $2,000,000 to health care providers, including community health centers;
  • Granting funding for the creation and expansion of multidisciplinary long COVID clinics to address the physical and mental health needs of patients;
  • Prioritizing funding for health providers that plan to engage medically underserved populations and populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19;
  • Ensuring that treatment is not denied based on insurance coverage, date or method of diagnosis, or previous hospitalization;
  • Encouraging ongoing medical training for physicians in long COVID clinics and other health care workers serving patients; and
  • Requiring grantees to submit an annual report on its activities that includes evaluations from patients.

The TREAT Long COVID Act has been endorsed by the COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project, Body Politic, Patient-Led Research Collaborative, Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers, Access Living, National Health Council, American Physical Therapy Association, Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mbadika, Solve M.E., American Association on Health and Disability, and Lakeshore Foundation.

In March 2022, Kaine introduced the Comprehensive Access to Resources and Education (CARE) for Long COVID Act – legislation to improve research on long COVID and provide resources for people with long COVID. A key provision of the bill passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in March. The Biden Administration recently announced new efforts to advance progress in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people with long COVID, which includes provisions from Kaine’s bill.

Full text of the legislation can be found here. A summary can be found here.