WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined a group of colleagues to introduce legislation that would establish a new core public health infrastructure program with $4.5 billion in annual funding to bolster the nation’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthen its ability to respond to other public health challenges going forward.

“Investing in public health will have great returns for our families, communities and the future health of our nation. As we’ve seen, the cost of inaction is deadly,” said Sen. Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy. “This bill will not only boost our response to the current pandemic, but ensure we’re prepared for any future health crises. This Administration has repeatedly gutted funding to our public health initiatives and its time we make the necessary investments to keep our country safe.”

The Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act (PHISLA) would establish a core public health infrastructure program through grants to state and local health departments and increased investments at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The funding for the program would ramp up over five years to $4.5 billion annually and then remain at that level, and the program would be aimed at specifically addressing eight core capabilities:

  • Public health assessment
  • Preparedness and response
  • Policy development and support
  • Communications
  • Community partnership development
  • Organizational competencies
  • Accountability
  • Equity

The bill has been endorsed by over 50 organizations including Autism Family Services of New Jersey, Caregivers of New Jersey, Epilepsy Services of New Jersey and the New Jersey Public Health Association.

PHISLA is cosponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

A summary of the bill can be found here.

A copy of the bill text can be found here.