Burgess: Public Health Reauthorizations are a Bipartisan Priority
Posted by on July 29, 2020 | comments
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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), a member of the House Rules Committee and Republican Leader of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, welcomed the bipartisan effort to reauthorize five public health programs in today’s Subcommittee on Health’s hearing.

As Prepared for Delivery: 
Today we are here to discuss the importance of reauthorizing five public health programs: School-Based Health Centers, the Young Women’s Breast Health Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, the United States Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Act, and the Pediatric Priority Review Voucher Program. All five of these bills provide various tools for individuals in all stages in life, to stay healthy and even save lives. I am grateful that the committee organized this discussion on these important measures, potentially providing hope and reassurance to many Americans depending on these programs in this difficult time. 

Often serving as lifeline for access to care for many children, H.R. 2075, would reauthorize federal support for School-Based Health Centers while also including Federally Qualified Health Centers as eligible providers. Generally administrated as a partnership between hospitals, schools, and local organizations, school-based health centers provide comprehensive care for students through important services such as primary medical care, behavioral care, and even substance disorder counseling to 3.6 million k-12 students nationwide. These services are offered in school, a setting with which students are familiar and comfortable, this convenient setting makes these services more accessible for many students, especially those of high-risk.  

Furthermore, ensuring access to preventative care allows for early intervention and treatment before the condition worsens. First authorized in 2010, The EARLY Act reauthorizes the Young Women’s Breast Health Education, and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act. This piece of legislation provides women with meaningful information, teaching women, especially young women, the importance of breast health and the risk factors associated with breast cancer. Education and awareness are a critical steps in preventative care, and with the breast cancer survival rate averaging 93 percent if detected at an early stage, we know it can help save lives.  

With a history starting in the 1980s, the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program has supported over 92,000 blood stem cell transplants. With 12,000 Americans diagnosed with blood cancer and disorders every year, H.R. 4764, the TRANSPLANT Act, would reauthorize the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and the National Cord Blood Inventory, providing resources and support to those who need a donor or cord blood unit. Diseases like sickle cell anemia or blood cancer often rely on bone marrow or cord blood transplant for treatment; however 70 percent of those with a blood disorder or cancer do not have a matched donor. H.R. 4764 will help maintain this program.  

In 1999, the U.S. Olympic Committee launched the United States Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, to oversee and enforce anti-doping programs for our Nations’ athletes. The Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Act would ensure that the USADA has the resources needed to encourage healthy sportsmanship among American athletes, especially as sports teams begin playing again. Our athletes often serve as role models for our children, making the mission of the USADA all the more significant. Our children must learn the value and importance in clean sportsmanship, and what better way to learn about these values than through the athletes they so admire.

Finally, I am encouraged to see H.R. 4439, the Creating Hope Reauthorization Act, included in today’s hearing. This important piece of legislation would make permanent the pediatric rare disease priority review voucher program, an incentive program to encourage American drug innovation for rare pediatric diseases. Because of the complexity and expense required to invest in pediatric drugs, the FDA had only approved two pediatric oncology drugs in the twenty years leading up to the Creating Hope Act, which was first signed into law in 2012. Since the enactment of this program, the FDA has approved 22 drugs for rare pediatric diseases. Consider all the young lives this program has helped improve and maybe even save. Clearly these outcomes signal success and the importance in passing this piece of legislation.

I do hope we can continue to work in a bipartisan manner to get these reauthorizations across the finish line in a timely manner. I thank our witnesses for sharing their time and expertise today. 


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