Two Bucshon bills provide funding for improved diagnostic testing platforms

U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced two bipartisan bills to improve America’s diagnostic testing capabilities.

“These bills will provide much-needed funding to hospitals, physicians and public health labs to acquire diagnostic testing platforms with a rapid turn-around time, as well as needed testing materials and supplies,” Rep. Bucshon said. “Until an effective vaccine or therapeutic for COVID-19 is developed and widely available, the key to keeping Americans safe and limiting the spread of the virus is to continue expanding our nation’s ability to rapidly test and isolate potential new cases.”

Rep. Bucshon on May 27 sponsored the Diagnostic Testing for Public Health Labs Act of 2020, H.R. 7025, with bill cosponsor U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to authorize grants to certain public health laboratories for the cost of acquiring high-throughput diagnostic equipment, which simultaneously tests thousands of samples using automation processes, according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, H.R. 7025 would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to award grants to help regional, state or local public health laboratories purchase these machines and the necessary supplies to ramp up testing, according to Rep. Bucshon’s office.

“Public health labs play a substantial and critical role in identifying and managing large-scale public health threats,” the congressman said. “However, their ability is severely limited by a lack of high-throughput, automated testing platforms.”

In fact, Rep. Bucshon said that 46 percent of the nation’s public health laboratories lack even a single on-site, high-throughput testing platform.

“The American people are counting on us to ensure our hospitals and public health labs have the equipment they need in order to meet the demands of the current COVID-19 outbreak, as well as future outbreaks,” he added.

At the same time, Rep. Bucshon cosponsored the Rapid Testing for Communities Act of 2020, H.R. 7026, with bill sponsor Rep. DeGette to authorize grants for acquiring equipment and supplies capable of performing same-day clinical laboratory diagnostic testing in a point-of-care setting, according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, H.R. 7026 would direct the CDC to award the grants to hospitals, physicians and other eligible healthcare providers to help perform coronavirus diagnostic testing outside of a laboratory setting. Priority for these grants would be given to underserved areas of the country.

Additionally, Reps. Bucshon and DeGette in March introduced a related bill, the bipartisan and bicameral Verifying Accurate Leading-edge IVCT Development (VALID) Act of 2020, H.R. 6102, a measure that would create a regulatory framework for how the Food and Drug Administration reviews and approves diagnostic tests. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-SC) in March sponsored the identical S. 3404 in his chamber.