U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján
From the Office of U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján:
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, voted to advance the PREVENT Pandemics Act to modernize the country’s pandemic response.
Following a year-long bipartisan process, this bill increases federal and state preparedness, bolsters the health workforce, improves epidemiologic data collection, accelerates research and development, improves the medical supply chain, in addition to much more.
Luján Provisions included the PREVENT Pandemics Act:
- The SUPPORT Act, to support access to mental health and substance use disorder services during public health emergencies.
- The Centers for Public Health Preparedness and Response Reauthorization Act, to create centers to build networks between academics, public health officials, and state, local and Tribal governments to inform preparedness and respond to public health emergencies.
- Portions of the Promoting Public Health Information Act, to provide recommendations to the Health Secretary on communication and dissemination of scientific and evidence-based public health information during public health emergencies.
“The PREVENT Pandemics Act takes important steps to codify the lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Luján said. “As we look forward, it is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that these lessons learned are not forgotten and are acted on. That’s why I’m proud to have three pieces of legislation included in this package that will improve our federal response to future public health emergencies and combat health misinformation that has put too many lives at risk. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation across the finish line.”
Provisions Important to New Mexico Secured in the PREVENT Pandemics Act:
- Bolsters Health Workforce: Sends $177 million to train more nurses dedicated to underserved areas, reauthorizes the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program to provide loan repayment for those working in a State, Territorial, Tribal, or local public health departments, and increases educational opportunities in physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, audiology, and speech-language pathology professions for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Strengthens public health communication: Creates a Public Health Information and Communication Advisory Committee to help develop clear communication guidance and dissemination of scientific and evidence-based public health information so that hospitals, health care providers, and New Mexicans have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. It also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance to combat health misinformation.
- Supports Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support continued access to mental health and substance use disorder services during public health emergencies.