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Pandemic Policy in the 2023 Federal Budget

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On Dec. 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 into law, funding the federal government through September 2023. The final budget, spanning 1653 pages, enacts many changes to public policy, some of which are related to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Dec. 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 into law, funding the federal government through September 2023. The final budget, spanning 1653 pages, enacts many changes to public policy, some of which are related to the coronavirus pandemic.

First, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 allocates $1,500,000 to the COVID-19 American History Project through the Library of Congress. The project will be collecting video and audio recordings of personal stories and testimonials, written materials, and photographs. These materials will be used to create a lasting record of this historic event. This project will help document how individuals and communities were affected by the pandemic and how it shaped our country and our culture.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 also includes key provisions of the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act, known as the “PREVENT Pandemics Act.” The PREVENT Pandemics Act modernizes our public health infrastructure, incentivizes a strong public health workforce, and promotes interagency coordination during public health emergencies. Additionally, the PREVENT Pandemics Act requires several studies to improve public health preparedness and response:

  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 requires the Comptroller General of the United States to evaluate the public health workforce in the United States. The evaluation will produce a report to address challenges associated with the hiring, recruitment, and retention of the public health workforce.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study that reviews the preparedness and response plans implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic and studies which plans presented challenges to sate responses to the public health emergency.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 directs the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to partner with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on the durability of immunity to COVID-19 from infection, vaccination, or both. 

While the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 implements many necessary public health reforms, it does not include key funding for response efforts to the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the omnibus budget bill does not fulfill the $10B emergency supplemental funding request that the Biden Administration sent to Congress in late 2022 for COVID-19 and long COVID.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 does provide $370M for the Department of Defense’s Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program, which continues to authorize research funding for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), among other conditions. While long COVID is not specifically named among the conditions eligible for research funding, research projects for several other conditions could lead to research breakthroughs that benefit people with long COVID. These include:

  • Alzheimer’s*
  • Dystonia
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis
  • Frontotemporal Degeneration
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Hemorrhage Control
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Lymphatic Disease*
  • Lymphedema*
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Neuroinflammatory response to emerging viral diseases*
  • Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Neuroactive Steroids
  • Pancreatitis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Pressure Ulcers
  • Proteomics*
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Respiratory health
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma*
  • Sleep disorders and restriction
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Vascular Malformation
  • Vision*

Conditions marked with an asterisk were newly added to PRMRP by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. Learn more about funding opportunities available through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.

Patient-Led Researchers Publish Comprehensive Study on Long COVID

On January 13, 2023, a major study authored by Hannah E. Davis, Lisa McCorkell, Julia Moore Vogel, and Eric J. Topol was published in Nature Reviews Microbiology. This study, titled “Long COVID: major findings, mechanisms and recommendations,” provides a comprehensive overview of long COVID and the current understanding of the associated pathophysiology.