Pressley, Beyer, Duckworth, Colleagues Unveil TREAT Long COVID Act to Expand Access to Treatment
Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), alongside Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), introduced the Targeting Resources for Equitable Access to Treatment for Long COVID (TREAT Long COVID) Act to increase access to medical care and treatment for communities and individuals struggling with Long COVID. The first-of-its-kind bill will fund the expansion of Long COVID Clinics and empower health care providers—including community health centers and local public health departments—to treat Long COVID patients in their own communities.
Rep. Beyer, Rep. Pressley, and advocates unveiled the legislation at a virtual press conference earlier today. Full video of the press conference is available here.
"Millions of Americans suffer from Long Covid, and in many cases the symptoms of this disease are more harmful than the initial infection,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Our bill would provide crucial funding to support the creation and expansion of Long Covid clinics to provide affected Americans with treatment and care. There is a staggering amount of need for these services, which still are not receiving the level of attention and response from policymakers that they deserve. Our bill would complement recent actions announced by the Biden-Harris Administration to meet that need and help the large and growing number of Americans living with this illness.”
“A just and equitable pandemic recovery must include the millions of people living with Long COVID, a community whose voices and suffering have been ignored for far too long. This pandemic has had prolonged health impacts on our most vulnerable individuals and families—particularly in Black, brown, and historically marginalized communities—and it is long past time we provide accessible treatment for our long haulers who have been living with the physical and mental anguish without adequate care,” said Rep. Pressley (D-MA). “By helping folks with Long COVID get critical treatment right in their communities, the TREAT Long COVID Act will help save lives and support our long-term recovery from this pandemic. People struggling with Long COVID deserve accessible and affordable medical care and treatment now, and Congress must pass our bill without delay.”
“We know that the impacts of COVID can linger long after Americans return to testing negative. Recovery from COVID-19 is posing a new set of challenges for both patients and health care providers,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester (D-DE). “Millions of individuals continue to experience long COVID, and they don’t know where to get help. That’s why I’m proud to join with Reps. Pressley & Beyer to introduce the TREAT Long COVID Act to connect people struggling with long COVID with healthcare services in their own communities.”
“Even if COVID-19 disappeared tomorrow, millions of Americans who contracted this disease—including people of color who continue to bear the brunt of this pandemic—would continue to suffer from long COVID, with symptoms ranging from heart palpitations to brain fog,” said Senator Duckworth (D-IL). “A holistic approach to treatment is absolutely necessary, particularly for those communities who face the harshest barriers to obtaining healthcare. That’s one of the reasons why, as Democrats continue our work to make sure people have access to tests, vaccines and therapeutics, I’m proud to introduce the TREAT Long COVID Act with Senators Markey and Kaine and Congresswoman Pressley. It would help all those living with long COVID gain better access to medical care and treatment options in their communities so we can help save lives and make sure no one is left behind on the road to recovery.”
“After talking to Virginians who are living with long COVID and meeting with medical providers across the Commonwealth, it’s clear we must do more to support health facilities that provide needed services for people dealing with the long-term impacts of the virus,” said Senator Kaine (D-VA). “I’m proud to support the TREAT Long COVID Act to ensure clinics that help people with long COVID have access to critical funding and resources to continue their vital work.”
“As we’ve learned, COVID-19 presents itself differently in different patients - some are asymptomatic, and others have serious and even fatal complications. This wide range of health impacts from COVID-19 is also true for patients dealing with Long COVID,” said Senator Markey (D-MA). “There is no one-size-fits all approach to Long COVID treatment, which is why we must expand access to comprehensive, individualized care. The TREAT Long COVID Act provides funding for multidisciplinary Long COVID clinics, helping ensure patients are at the center of our approach to this illness that impacts so many.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with Long COVID may experience a combination of symptoms, ranging from extreme fatigue and cognitive dysfunction or “brain fog,” to muscle pain and gastrointestinal issues, to difficulty breathing, insomnia, and heart palpitations. Although there is no official count of people suffering from Long COVID, a conservative estimate of only ten percent of documented COVID-19 survivors could mean nearly 8 million people are impacted across the United States. Currently, there is no federal program focused on expanding treatment options for this unique and growing population. The absence of specialized support contributes to patients experiencing greater physical and mental anguish, disruption in employment and education, and reduced quality of life.
The TREAT Long COVID Act would expand treatment for Long COVID nationwide by:
The TREAT Long COVID Act has been endorsed by the COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project, Body Politic, Patient-Led Research Collaborative, Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers, Access Living, National Health Council, American Physical Therapy Association, Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mbadika, Solve M.E., American Association on Health and Disability, and Lakeshore Foundation.
Beyer previously introduced legislation focused on promoting the sharing of medical information on patient experiences to identify the most effective treatments and health care strategies, and to use that information to educate patients and medical providers. Earlier this year Beyer and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) urged the Centers For Disease Control to publicly report findings on the prevalence of Long COVID, including disaggregated demographic data.