Congressmen Phil Roe in bipartisan push for COVID health bill

U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN) and Representative Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) have introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Suppress COVID-19 Act to provide states with the support they need to eliminate the spread of COVID-19. Representative Phil Roe is a lead author. In the Senate, the bill is carried by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA).

Based on research by leading public health experts, the Suppress COVID-19 Act seeks to end testing shortages and provide states with the tools they need to identify and suppress outbreaks. The legislation would set aside $25 billion for states to purchase tests and testing supplies, and it authorizes states to form interstate compacts that allow them to overcome challenges with the testing supply chain. The Suppress COVID-19 Act also provides $25 billion to states for contact tracing and test administration.

Under the bill, states are not required to use testing dollars in the context of regional agreements; however, those that do will be eligible for part of a $5 billion set-aside from the overall testing amount. Unlike states alone, regional compacts can:

*Give manufacturers of tests and supplies guaranteed contracts, providing them the certainty they need to ramp up testing capacity;
*Deliver innovative tests at an affordable price, rapidly expanding the national testing arsenal;
*Allow multiple states to leverage their market power to purchase tests and testing supplies at lower rates;
*Protect small, rural and remote states from being crowded out of the testing market by big states; and
*Distribute tests across a region to plug gaps in testing capacity.