Friday, U.S. Senators Doug Jones, D-Alabama and Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, introduced the United States Public Health Service Modernization Act of 2019. This bipartisan legislation would create a Ready Reserve Corps within the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps to ensure vital health care jobs are adequately staffed when disasters strike the U.S.
“Alabama knows all too well the full spectrum of natural disasters and the devastation they can bring on our communities, especially in our most rural areas that lack immediate access to services and resources,” said Senator Jones. “When our dedicated health care workers deploy in response to these disasters, we also need to make sure we’re not creating a gap in service at their home duty station. This bipartisan bill will help address that challenge by making sure adequate health care professionals are on standby to fill those positions and provide continuous quality care.”
The USPHA Commissioned Corps is a team of more than 6,500 full-time officers working to advance public health and disease programs across multiple federal agencies and programs. Currently, during times of national emergencies, the UPSHA Commissioned Corps Officers are relocated from their stationed roles to assist with public health emergencies. Jones believes that this leaves vital health care jobs at agencies vacant and poses a risk to citizens in the area who rely on those services for care. S.2629 authorizes the creation of a reserve under the proposed legislation would allow duty stations to fill these vital roles when Regular Corps Officers are responding to public health emergencies.
Senator Jones is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Jones is the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate since 1996. He narrowly defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore in a special election in 2017 for the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions to become Attorney General. Doug Jones was a former Clinton era U.S. Attorney. Jones faces a challenging re-election in November.