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Congress Introduces Bipartisan Bills to Improve Access to SARS-CoV-2 Testing

NEW YORK – US Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) and Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana) introduced two new pieces of legislation Wednesday intended to improve access to SARS-CoV-2 testing and boost laboratory capacity. 

One bill, titled The Diagnostic Testing for Public Health Labs Act, would require the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to offer grants to help public health laboratories purchase high-throughput testing platforms and supplies as a way to boost testing capacity. Under the law, grants would be capped at $2 million per lab. 

The bill covers state, local, and tribal public health laboratories, public health laboratories coordinated by the CDC, and other laboratories that provide "population-based testing for the prevention and control of infectious, communicable, genetic, or chronic diseases."

The other bill, titled Rapid Testing for Communities Act, would require the CDC to award grants to healthcare providers to support SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing outside of a laboratory, prioritizing underserved and rural areas. The grants would be used to purchase equipment and supplies to perform same-day diagnostic testing at the point of care. Grants would be capped at $20,000.

“These bills will provide much-needed funding to hospitals, physicians, and public health labs to acquire diagnostic testing platforms with a rapid turn-around time, as well as needed testing materials and supplies," Bucshon said in a statement. "Until an effective vaccine or therapeutic for COVID-19 is developed and widely available, the key to keeping Americans safe and limiting the spread of the virus is to continue expanding our nation’s ability to rapidly test and isolate potential new cases."

“These pieces of legislation would vastly expand testing at our nation’s public health labs and ensure underserved communities have equal access to coronavirus testing," DeGette added.

Earlier this year, DeGette and Bucshon introduced the Verifying Accurate, Leading-edge IVCT Development (VALID) Act to establish US Food and Drug Administration oversight of diagnostic tests, including laboratory-developed tests.