October 26, 2020

2020 Health Statistics Act

2020 Health Statistics Act Introduced

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the 2020 Health Statistics Act to amend the Public Health Service Act. The 2020 Health Statistics Act would standardize public health data collection and make it easier for federal agencies and states to share information to improve their response to the pandemic and other public health emergencies.

In the United States, only 40% of the data needed to fight the pandemic is currently available to experts because of the lack of standardization of public health reporting. The 2020 Health Statistics Act would streamline reporting requirements, enforce coordination between federal and state agencies, and help boost data infrastructure in regions that need it. The bill would also direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to share health data collected from reporting entities with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other public health agencies, and the public while preserving individual privacy. It would require the Secretary of HHS acting through the CDC to designate data and technology standards and set common reporting criteria for the highest priority data elements, as well as create a grant program for state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments for the expansion and modernization of public health data systems.

The bill has been met with high praise. “This bill is the most important development in making vital statistics data electronically available and broadly actionable in the last 40 years,” said Christopher A. Longhurst, MD, MS, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at UC San Diego Health. The Health Statistics Act is a game-changer. It is a foundation bringing rationality and better utilization to public health data in this country while strengthening privacy protections,” said Dr. Nancy Potok, former Chief Statistician of the United States.

“In order to bolster our state and local public health professionals’ efforts to combat COVID-19 and future outbreaks, we need to improve standardized interagency data sharing between our federal agencies and states while optimizing our nation’s public health surveillance system,” Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R.PA), one of the co-authors of the bill, said. “The bipartisan Health Statistics Act will help achieve better patient outcomes and will save more lives by providing researchers with better access to higher-quality data and would modernize our nation’s data infrastructure so that our public health infrastructure can meet immediate surveillance, reporting, and other outbreak management needs.” Fitzpatrick is joined by Representatives Scott Peters (D.CA), Lucy McBath (D.GA), and Anna G. Eshoo (D. CA).

Read H.R. 8080 here.