Reps. Taylor, Shalala Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Collection and Reporting of Public Health Data

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Washington, September 30, 2020 | Anna R. McCormack ((202) 570-0927) | comments
Congressman Van Taylor (R-TX-03), was joined by Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL-27) to introduce bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives to harmonize the collection and reporting of public health data across all levels of government.
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WASHINGTON – Today, United States Congressman Van Taylor (R-TX-03), was joined by Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL-27) to introduce bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives to harmonize the collection and reporting of public health data across all levels of government.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently provides some reporting guidance through the National Vital Statistics System, methods used by state and local governments vary widely, making it difficult to accurately track, measure, and share information. Lack of consistent data and reporting requirements can prevent public health officials from making well-informed decisions.

H.R. 8444, the Vital STATS Act, aims to eliminate inconsistencies in the collection and reporting of public health data amongst federal, state, and local jurisdictions and, as a result, improve our nation's health system.

Author of the legislation, Congressman Van Taylor, said, “The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted long-standing inconsistencies in the collection and reporting of public health data amongst federal, state, and local jurisdictions.” He continued, “By improving the ability to accurately track, measure, and share vital statistics, our bill, the Vital STATS Act can help ensure public health officials have access to the best information and data available when making important decisions that ultimately impact the health and wellbeing of Americans.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge to American public health in recent memory, and the solutions public health experts and law makers present for overcoming this crisis will require reliable, consistent information for each corner of the country,” said Rep. Shalala. "This bill will help us fight any future pandemics by studying how we can make vital statistics reporting more effective and uniform, across state, local and federal agencies.”

Specifically, H.R. 8444 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with the National Academy of Medicine to conduct a yearlong study assessing the effectiveness of current vital statistics reporting and data sharing between public health entities. Following completion of the study, the Vital STATS Act requires the National Academies to submit a report to Congress with policy recommendations addressing the coordination and standardization of state, local, and federal reporting measures to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of such reporting, and also the feasibility of setting national standards for death reporting and collecting vital statistics.

H.R. 8444, the Vital STATS Act has been endorsed by Texas Health Resources, Baylor Scott & White Health, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“Texas Health Resources applauds Representatives Van Taylor and Donna Shalala for leading a bipartisan effort to better align the nation’s public health system by studying ways to improve the coordination of data collection, reporting and sharing at all levels of government. The current COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shown us that changes are needed to improve the system’s efficiency and effectiveness going forward.” - Ferdinand Velasco, M.D., Chief Health Information Officer; Texas Health Resources

“Baylor Scott & White Health supports Representative Van Taylor’s initiative to help address some of the gaps and issues that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic with regard to data collection. Federal, state and local data requests continue to require substantial hospital resources and we look forward to studying and improving this process moving forward.” - Baylor Scott & White Health

“On behalf of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW), we support proposed legislation calling for a study by the National Academy of Medicine to assess the effectiveness of current vital statistics reporting and data sharing between State, local, and Federal entities. This legislation will be an important first step towards aligning our nation’s public health system.” - Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., President; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

The complete text of H.R. 8444 can be found here.

Background
In July, Congressman Van Taylor and Congresswoman Donna Shalala worked together to introduce an amendment to improve the reporting of vital statistics in H.R. 7617, the Defense, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Act for 2021. The amendment passed unanimously and was included in the bill's report language.

A 7th generation Texan, Congressman Van Taylor is a dedicated family man, successful businessman, and decorated Marine Officer. Taylor served Collin County both in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate. Today, Taylor is proud to serve on the House Committee on Financial Services.

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