H.R. 4701, Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014

H.R. 4701

Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014

Date
September 9, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4701, the Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4701 was introduced on May 21, 2014 by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4701 amends Title III of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 241 et seq.) to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct or support epidemiological, basic, translational, and clinical research regarding Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  Moreover, the Secretary is required to ensure that each NIH biennial report to Congress includes information on actions undertaken by the NIH to carry out research related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  Included in this report would be an assessment of the progress made in improving the outcomes of Lyme disease and such other tick-borne diseases.

In addition, this legislation requires the Secretary to establish a permanent working group (to be known as the Interagency Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Working Group) to review all efforts within HHS concerning Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases to ensure interagency coordination.  The Working Group would be required to: 1) within two years of enactment, develop a summary of ongoing research, advances, and the engagement of HHS with persons that participate in public meetings; 2) ensure that a broad spectrum of scientific viewpoints is represented in each summary; 3) monitor Federal activities with respect to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases; 4) make recommendations to the Secretary regarding any appropriate changes to such activities; and 5) ensure public input by holding annual public meetings that address scientific advances, research questions, and surveillance activities.  Finally, this legislation requires the Secretary to, within 3 years of enactment (and every 5 years thereafter), submit to Congress a strategic plan for the conduct and support of Lyme diseases and tick-borne disease research, including: 1) proposed budgetary requirements; 2) a plan for improving outcomes of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, including progress related to chronic or persistent symptoms and infections or co-infections; 3) a plan for improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention; 4) appropriate benchmarks to measure progress on achieving improvements; and 5) a plan to disseminate each summary and other relevant information developed by the Working Group to the public, including health care providers, public health departments, and other relevant medical groups.  No additional funds are authorized to be appropriate to carry out this Act.

Background

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Lyme symptoms can include a skin rash along with fever, headache, and fatigue. When left untreated, the infection can spread and affect the joints, heart, and nervous system. Diagnosis is based on physical symptoms, lab testing, and exposure. Prior to 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about 30,000 new cases each year in the US with 96% of those cases in 13 States concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest. Using more indicators, the CDC now estimates that around 300,000 people in the US are diagnosed each year with Lyme disease making it a serious public health problem.

Cost

“CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4701 would cost $338 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming appropriation of amounts similar to appropriations provided in recent
years for NIH activities related to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.”[1]  CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4701 would have no significant effect on direct spending or revenues.  There is no new spending associated with this bill.

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[1] http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/hr4701.pdf

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.