Legislation has been filed by U.S. Reps. Van Taylor (R-TX) and Donna Shalala (D-FL) to “harmonize the collection and reporting of public health data across all levels of government.”
According to a press release from Taylor’s office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently provides some reporting guidance through its National Vital Statistics System. However, methods used by state and local governments vary widely. Taylor and Shalala argue that variance makes it difficult to accurately track, measure, and share information.
Their measure—House Resolution 8444, the Vital STATS Act—would “eliminate inconsistencies in the collection and reporting of public health data amongst federal, state, and local jurisdictions and, as a result, improve our nation’s health system.”
According to Taylor, the legislation was filed because the coronavirus pandemic has “highlighted long-standing inconsistencies in the collection and reporting of public health data,” preventing public health officials from making well-informed decisions.
“By improving the ability to accurately track, measure, and share vital statistics, our bill, the Vital STATS Act, can help ensure public health officials have access to the best information and data available when making important decisions that ultimately impact the health and well-being of Americans,” said Taylor.
The congressman’s office reports:
“Specifically, H.R. 8444 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with the National Academy of Medicine to conduct a yearlong study assessing the effectiveness of current vital statistics reporting and data sharing between public health entities. Following completion of the study, the Vital STATS Act requires the National Academies to submit a report to Congress with policy recommendations addressing the coordination and standardization of state, local, and federal reporting measures to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of such reporting, and also the feasibility of setting national standards for death reporting and collecting vital statistics.
“H.R. 8444, the Vital STATS Act has been endorsed by Texas Health Resources, Baylor Scott & White Health, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.”