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Representatives Bera and Young Introduce Comprehensive Legislation to Combat and Eliminate Tuberculosis

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK), Co-Chairs of the House TB Elimination Caucus, introduced the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation that would empower public health officials with the necessary tools to combat and eliminate tuberculosis (TB) in the United States.

In the United States, TB remains a serious problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 8,916 new cases of TB reported in the United States in 2019, including 90 cases of primary multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), which is difficult and costly to treat. In addition to these active cases, there are up to 13 million individuals in the U.S. with latent tuberculosis infection.

“As a doctor, I have seen firsthand the impact that tuberculosis continues to have on Americans across the country,” said Representative Bera, who previously served as Chief Medical Officer for Sacramento County. “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. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Rep. Young, which would increase resources and collaboration to eradicate tuberculosis in the United States once and for all.”

“In the past few decades, we have made tremendous strides in combating TB, but there is more work ahead,” said Congressman Don Young. “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.”

The Comprehensive TB Elimination Act of 2021 would: reauthorize the National Strategy for Combating and Eliminating Tuberculosis for five years, authorize the use of grants to state health departments to focus on TB in high-risk populations, and encourage interagency coordination in identifying novel tools and therapeutics for TB control.

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Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“This past year was one of the worst in recent history for the fight against TB, including for TB programs and research in the United States. We need bold action now to restore the devastating losses in capacity that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on our public health programs and research networks, and the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act does just that. CTEA provides TB programs with the resources necessary to keep individuals and communities safe and healthy; and it brings the focus and coordination so sorely needed to develop new tools to prevent, diagnose, and cure TB. We thank Rep. Bera and Rep. Young for introducing this crucial legislation, and strongly urge other members of Congress to sign on in support and pass CTEA as swiftly as possible,” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director, Treatment Action Group.

“TB Alliance commends Representatives Bera and Young for reintroducing the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act, an essential bill that will strengthen efforts to fight TB in the United States. It also recognizes the urgent need to invest in basic research to advance the development of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines to bring this deadly infectious disease pandemic under control,” said Mel Spigelman, MD, President and CEO, TB Alliance.

“The American Thoracic Society (ATS) commends Representative Ami Bera and Representative Don Young for their introduction of the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act (CTEA),” said American Thoracic Society President Lynn Schnapp, MD, ATSF. “The ATS was founded as the American Sanitorium Association in 1905 to prevent and control tuberculosis (TB), which continues to be a significant public health issue in the U.S.  The enactment and funding of the CTEA is critical to the goal of eliminating TB, which disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities as well as non-U.S. born residents.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of a strong public health response to combatting the spread of infectious disease. Tuberculosis is both treatable and preventable, but continues to have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations such as people experiencing homelessness. We endorse the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act because it authorizes the funding and policy direction needed to treat current infections and prevent future ones,” said Barbara DiPietro, Senior Director of Policy, National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

“The tuberculosis survivors and affected families across the USA in We Are TB would like to thank Representatives Bera and Young for their work reintroducing the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act. Tuberculosis programs in the United States are under resourced and are especially in need of funding after their support of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Comprehensive TB Elimination Act will ensure that families like ours across the USA will receive quality care against this deadly disease that has ended over 1.5 million lives worldwide in 2020. Antibiotic treatments for tuberculosis are long with difficult side effects. The side effects of TB medications frequently make a regimen hard to complete, contributing to antibiotic resistance. The Comprehensive TB Elimination Act will ensure that people in TB treatment are not only fully supported throughout their course of drugs, but also that better medications and diagnostics are researched and developed. We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Bera and Young and hope other legislators join them in creating a tuberculosis free USA and world,” said Kate O’Brien, We Are TB.

“The Comprehensive TB Elimination Act will fund much-needed research, mobilize critical resources and ensure that vulnerable populations in the United States have access to TB treatment. This legislation positions the U.S. as a leader in ending the TB epidemic, which was the world’s biggest infectious killer before COVID-19 arrived. I urge Congress to step up and pass this important bill,” said Chris Collins, President and CEO of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria.

The bill is endorsed by 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.

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