On July 27, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced the Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act (H.R. 767) in a bipartisan voice vote, to address the scourge of human trafficking in the United States. The SOAR Act would enhance and codify a program at HHS to train health care providers to identify and appropriately respond to victims of human trafficking. The bill was introduced in the House on January 31 by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and Ann Wagner (R-MO). After being approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee, this bill now awaits action on the House floor. A senate companion bill, S. 256 was introduced on February 1 by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
ENA has submitted letters of support for both bills. In addition, a recent column that appeared in the Hill by ENA President Karen Wiley highlights the growing problem of human trafficking and calls for the mandatory training for health care professionals to better-identify potential victims of human trafficking.