The new Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security convened by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security met virtually for the first time on October 7, 2020.
The Steering Committee was initiated as an education forum to discuss new topics, technologies, and ideas that could improve domestic health security now and in the future. Staff from Congressional offices, Federal agencies, and the invited public gathered virtually to focus on strengthening health security.
The Steering Committee managed by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is being led by four Honorary Co-Chairs to include Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) https://baldwin.senate.gov, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) https://burr.senate.gov, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) https://www.casey.senate.gov, and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) https://www.hydesmith.senate.gov.
The Virtual launch of the Committee featured a discussion on priorities, challenges, and policy implications in health security. Speakers at the event included:
- Senator Bob Casey
- Senator Tammy Baldwin
- Kathleen Sebelius, Former Secretary HHS, and Former Governor of Kansas
- Tom Inglesby, MD, Director, JHU Center for Health Security
- W. Craig Vanderwagen, Former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS
- Stephen Redd MD, Retired Admiral, Deputy Director for the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at CDC
Some of the ideas and thoughts suggested by speakers included:
- More bipartisan support is needed to address issues
- More PPE and testing capacity needs to be available to frontline workers
- A national manufacturing strategy with priorities should be put in place
- Implementation and best practices resources are needed in nursing homes
- A study how the healthcare system can respond more effectively to emergencies
- Federal investment in research is needed to study infectious diseases
- The Federal government needs to invest more at the state and local levels in public health to rebuild the public health system
- Encourage scientists to talk to the public especially on issues related to the infectious diseases and developing vaccines
- Address the needs and impact of the pandemic on small business
- Communicate more openly with stakeholders involved in detection, prevention, response, and recovery
- Develop a long term plan to meet future needs in healthcare
- Develop a way to improve data collection, automate the process, and protect privacy
- Bring people together with the biomed community which is ready to be active in a collaborative way
As Senator Casey concluded the meeting, “We need to keep demanding more action on Capitol Hill so this country will be better prepared for future pandemics.”
Neal Neuberger, President, Health Tech Strategies https://firstname.lastname@example.org, provided consulting expertise to the Pathway Policy Group to form the new Committee and to help build this effort into a lasting and impactful resource for legislators, agencies, and the interested public. More than 20 years ago, he maintained the Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics which presented over 200 educational programs and healthcare technology demonstrations.
The next monthly Capitol Hill Steering Committee Meeting will be held November 17, 2020 at 11 AM.