SOAR Act Passes First Major Hurdle in Congress
Today, H.R. 767, the Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act, moved past its first procedural hurdle, passing the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. This legislation, introduced by U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas, Steve Cohen (D-TN), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and Ann Wagner (R-MO), will improve healthcare professionals’ ability to identify and help human trafficking victims.
“In the last decade, Los Angeles has become one of the top three hubs for human trafficking,” said Rep. Cárdenas, a member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. “While we’re making strides in dismantling this industry, we must do more. Ensuring that health professionals are able to address and recognize human trafficking is crucial in our fight. This legislation will help meet that goal, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort.”
Ninety-five percent of emergency room personnel are not trained to treat trafficking victims. The Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond to Health and Wellness Act supports efforts underway at the Department of Health and Human Services to combat human trafficking by directing the Secretary to establish a pilot program to provide comprehensive training techniques to healthcare professionals.
While human trafficking victims are often difficult to identify, social workers, and other healthcare professionals are often on the frontlines of encountering victims and survivors. A report found that 68% percent of trafficking victims end up in a health care setting at some point while being exploited, including in clinics, emergency rooms, and doctor’s offices. The SOAR Act will close that gap in the healthcare setting and help identify the complex needs of victims and survivors.