Cures 2.0 Update Funds Pandemic Preparedness, Vaccine Education

Inside Health Policy

November 16, 2021 8:00 am

Updated Cures 2.0 draft legislation to be unveiled Tuesday (Nov. 16) would fund and create several pandemic-related programs, including an immunization education campaign and a grant for organizations that help patients access and pay for care to develop their own response plan for future pandemics.

The updated bipartisan 21st Century Cures 2.0 discussion draft also keeps previously reported policies like requiring the president and HHS secretary to create a national strategy, including medical supply chain preparedness and data sharing, based on lessons learned from COVID-19.

The bill, spearheaded by House Energy & Commerce Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), also would direct the HHS secretary to study so-called long COVID and create national, virtual meetings with plans, providers and medical and scientific researchers, among other experts, to discuss the lingering effects of COVID-19.

The six-month study would survey patients who self-identify as having long-COVID so the department can assess sources of health coverage, long-term care coverage, and disability coverage. The long-COVID learning collaborative would involve hospitals, physicians, nurses, patient and consumer advocates, data scientists, service providers and developers of diagnostics and therapeutics.

The discussion draft also creates a Pandemic Preparedness Rare Disease Support Program meant to help organizations create a pandemic preparedness plan that outlines how they will overcome current or future pandemic-related challenges.

The Health Resources and Services Administration in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would distribute the annually appropriated $25 million fund to organizations that help patients and their families access and pay for medical care. Priority would go to organizations focusing on rare diseases or conditions as defined by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the draft says.

The bill also would allocate $25 million from 2022 through 2024 each to strengthen CDC immunization information systems and create a public education campaign on the safety and importance of vaccines.