Lawmakers introduce plan to ramp up COVID-19 testing nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) today introduced bipartisan legislation to dramatically expand COVID-19 testing throughout the country.
The legislation – known as the “Access to Technology and Equipment for Same-day Tests (TESTs) Act” – would make more testing available to more people across the country. It would help increase testing capacity at labs across the country by providing them the funding they need to purchase new diagnostic testing equipment that can run thousands of tests at a time.
It would also make testing more readily available to those living in rural and underserved areas of the country by providing grants to hospitals and physicians to provide same-day testing to nearby residents.
“Public health experts agree that to end this pandemic we must take steps now to increase testing throughout the country,” DeGette said. “The sooner we’re able to increase our testing capacity – and make those tests readily available to everyone – the sooner we will be on track toward ending this crisis.”
“While our country’s COVID-19 diagnostic testing capabilities and capacity have increased over time during the pandemic, I continue to hear from Hoosiers in the Eighth District of Indiana that the turnaround times for their results take too long and some continue to have difficulty accessing a rapid response test,” Bucshon said. “Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely distributed, and enough Americans have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the key to staying ahead of the virus and keeping Americans safe, reopening the economy, and limiting the spread of the virus is to continue expanding our nation’s ability to rapidly test and isolate potential new cases. 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 not only the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but any future disease outbreaks that may occur.”
Specifically, the legislation would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide grants to regional, state and local public health laboratories to help them purchase new automated, high-throughput diagnostic testing platforms that can significantly increase their testing capacity.
These automated platforms are able to process thousands of COVID-19 tests at one time, significantly increasing the total number of tests each lab can process daily; and reducing the time it takes for patients to get their results.
The legislation would also make grants available to hospitals, physicians and other health care providers to provide same-day testing to those living in rural and underserved areas of the country. The grants would allow health care providers in these areas to test residents outside of a laboratory setting and provide them the results the same day.
DeGette and Bucshon introduced several similar pieces of legislation last year in an effort to increase the nation’s diagnostic testing capabilities.
The legislation introduced today combines those previously introduced bills into one larger package. And it comes as the Biden administration has made the expansion of testing a key component of its overall plan to combat the virus and safely reopen schools and businesses across the country.
A copy of the legislation is available here.