03.27.20

Rounds USPHS Legislation Included in COVID-19 Relief Bill

Bipartisan legislation will make certain vital health care jobs are adequately staffed when disasters, such as the current coronavirus crisis, strike the U.S.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today praised the inclusion of his legislation, The United States Public Health Service Modernization Act, into the COVID-19 relief bill. This bipartisan legislation establishes a Ready Reserve Corps within the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps to make certain vital health care jobs are adequately staffed when disasters, such as the current coronavirus crisis, strike the U.S.

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need to create a Ready Reserve Corps within the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) so vital healthcare services remain available to our citizens when Commissioned Corps Officers are called away from their duty stations,” said Rounds. “Already, hundreds of officers have been deployed from their regular duty stations, such as an Indian Health Service facility, to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is leaving a gap in healthcare services in already-underserved communities. By creating a Ready Reserve Corps within USPHS, we will now be better equipped to fill these vital positions when the Commissioned Corps Officers need to respond to a national emergency.”   

 

Background:

  • The USPHS Commissioned Corps is a team of more than 6,500 full-time officers advancing public health and disease prevention programs. The Commissioned Corps fills health service roles within federal agencies and programs, including the Indian Health Service (IHS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Coast Guard.
  • During times of national emergencies, USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers are relocated from their stationed roles within these agencies and relocated to help with public health emergencies. This leaves vital health care jobs at agencies vacant, posing a risk to citizens in the area who rely on those services for care.
  • Creating a reserve will allow duty stations to fill these vital positions when Regular Corps Officers are called away to respond to public health emergencies.

 

###