Kaine Introduces Bill to Modernize Public Health Data Infrastructure
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Improving Data Accessibility Through Advancements (DATA) in Public Health Act, legislation to modernize our nation’s public health data infrastructure. This bill would increase timely and accurate information sharing between local, state, and federal public health departments to improve our preparedness and response to emerging public health threats. A provision similar to the Improving DATA in Public Health Act was included in the Senate HELP Committee’s PREVENT Pandemics Act, which passed out of committee last week.
“The pandemic has shed light on how outdated and inconsistent public health data systems can hamper efforts to provide life-saving care for people across Virginia and our nation,” said Senator Kaine. “As a former Mayor, Governor and now U.S. Senator, I know it’s often difficult for local, state, and federal health departments to coordinate when they’re using different systems. We need to better connect our local, state, and federal public health systems so we can more quickly aggregate data and tailor our responses to emerging threats. I’m pleased that provisions similar to this were included in the HELP Committee’s bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act and I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve our public health data systems and better respond to public health emergencies.”
Specifically, the Improving DATA in Public Health Act would:
- Improve the functionality of public health data systems by:
- directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish uniform data standards that local, state, and federal health systems all must use. Without uniform standards, it’s difficult for federal agencies like the CDC to aggregate data from local and state health systems across the country to track COVID case numbers and other metrics.
- directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to strengthen data sharing processes between public health entities, like health care facilities, laboratories, and public health departments;
- Provide a grant program to develop best practices on soliciting demographic information used for public health purposes to strengthen the quality and completeness of demographic data collection.
Kaine has long supported efforts to modernize our public health data systems. In 2019, he led bipartisan legislation to fund improvements to our nation’s public health data infrastructure. The Improving DATA in Public Health Act builds on these efforts by helping public health departments and agencies, such as HHS and the CDC, strengthen our public health data systems and improve our ability to prevent and respond to future pandemics.
Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have also co-sponsored the Improving DATA in Public Health Act.
The bill text can be found here.