Last week, U.S. Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA), M.D. and Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill to reauthorize a national tuberculosis strategy, authorize grants for state health departments to focus on TB in high-risk populations, and promote interagency coordination in containing the disease.
Despite the current prominence of COVID-19, the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act of 2021 (H.R. 5857) reckons with the capabilities of an older, no less deadly disease — one that still spurs thousands of cases in the United States each year. Nearly 9,000 cases were reported in the United States in 2019, including multidrug-resistant strains that create difficult, costly cases to treat
“As a doctor, I have seen firsthand the impact that tuberculosis continues to have on Americans across the country,” Bera, who previously served as Chief Medical Officer for Sacramento County and now serves as a co-chair of the House TB Elimination Caucus, said. “While the United States has made important progress towards controlling TB, we must redouble our efforts if we want to eliminate TB in the 21st century.”
While serious case numbers for the disease may not be huge in the United States, figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that up to 13 million people in the United States may also have latent TB infections.
Accordingly, the legislation quickly earned endorsements from a variety of medical associations and organizations working to combat TB, including the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, The Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development (TB Alliance), Global Health Technologies Coalition, Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery, IAVI, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Tuberculosis Controllers Association, RESULTS, Stop TB USA, Treatment Action Group, Tuberculosis Roundtable and We Are TB.
“In the past few decades, we have made tremendous strides in combating TB, but there is more work ahead,” Young said. “As Co-Chair of the House TB Elimination Caucus, I remain focused on eliminating TB in the 21st Century and beyond. I am proud to join Congressman Ami Bera as we introduce the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act. This bipartisan legislation takes needed action to protect some of our most vulnerable populations through greater collaboration and sound public health strategy. I call on my friends on both sides of the aisle to help us get it across the finish line.”
Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Ed Markey (D-MA).