Bill aims to improve public health data infrastructure

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A bill that aims to improve the public health data systems in the United States has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Senators Tim Kaine, Johnny Isakson and Angus King introduced the Saving Lives Through Better Data Act.

According to a release, it would work to ensure timely and accurate information sharing in order to protect the public from health threats like viruses, prescription drug abuse and other potentially preventable health problems.

"Our public health data systems are stuck in the past, hurting our ability to respond quickly to dangerous health threats and crises like the opioid epidemic," said Kaine. "There is an opportunity to improve information sharing across these data systems, health care providers, and health officials at the state, local and federal levels in order to improve care, save lives, and better confront the public health threats that we face today."

Among the improvements the bill would make, it would authorize $100 million each year for fiscal years 2020 through 2024.

That money would be used to award grants to public health departments to improve data collection and analysis, simplify provider reporting, and support early dedication and response.

It could also be used to improve interoperability of public health systems that are used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Then it would help develop public-private partnerships to support the expansion and modernization of electronic case reporting and public health data systems.

Finally, the bill would aim to develop a strategy and implement a plan to update and improve the CDC's public health data systems and support improvement of state, local, tribal and territorial public health data systems.

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