June 12, 2019

Kaine, Isakson, King Introduce Bill To Modernize Public Health Data Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Angus King (I-ME) 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.

“Our public health data systems are stuck in the past, hurting our ability to respond quickly to dangerous health threats and crises like the opioid epidemic. There is an opportunity to improve information sharing across these data systems, health care providers, and health officials at the state, local, and federal levels in order to improve care, save lives, and better confront the public health threats that we face today,” said Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee.

“The United States is behind the curve on the collection and modernization of public health data that could improve health and even save lives,” said Isakson, a member of two Senate committees that oversee health care issues. “The Saving Lives Through Better Data Act will help public health agencies like the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improve tracking, data-sharing and reporting on public health threats through eliminating wasteful duplication, enhancing public-private partnerships, and other avenues to improve and modernize care in the 21st century.”

“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 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.

The text of the bill is available here.

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