Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee unveiled a sweeping, $312 billion bill known as the LIFT America Act last week that, among other things, would invest in America’s health infrastructure.
“As our nation combats COVID-19 and a severe economic downturn, the LIFT America Act fulfills President Biden’s promise to Build Back Better,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said. “Over the last year, we’ve seen the devastating results of inaction: major power outages, water shortages, healthcare facilities stretched to the limit, and communities left behind due to the digital divide. By modernizing our infrastructure, we have an opportunity to revitalize our economy, create millions of new jobs, combat climate change, and ensure no community is left behind.”
LIFT, or Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America, would invest some $37 billion into health initiatives — a primary area of concern in the era of COVID-19. Included in this push would be $7 billion for core public health infrastructure, which would filter out into state, local, tribal and territorial health departments, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These funds would be put toward bolstering workforce and testing capacities, health information, disease surveillance, and more.
Another $10 billion would reestablish the Hill-Burton hospital infrastructure program that prioritizes awards for projects that modernize public health preparedness or protect against cybersecurity threats when constructing and modernizing hospitals and medical facilities. Community health center capital project grants would also be able to pull from a $10 billion fund for construction and modernization. Labs would gain $4.5 billion to build up SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 testing and response activities, specifically.
The bill also highlights the Indian Health Service, providing $5 billion to plan, design, build, modernize and renovate hospitals and healthcare facilities under its jurisdiction. The hope there is to enhance capabilities and reduce health disparities among tribal communities. More generally, the legislation would also invest $500 million into community-based care centers addressing public health crises through improvement, renovation, and modernization of their infrastructure.
Beyond health infrastructure, LIFT America would also put up billions for investments into clean energy, water, restoration, and nationwide broadband initiatives. All 32 Democrats on the E&C Committee sponsored the bill.