Pittsburgh, PA- As the nation grapples with a second case of Ebola, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by doctors and specialists from UPMC Presbyterian and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC, discussed the region’s preparedness and pushed for increased investment in critical hospital preparedness funding. In 2013, Casey led the effort to reauthorize a pandemic preparedness bill that provides for preparedness and planning for public health emergencies, including planning for Ebola. Funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program has been cut by 50% since 2003. This week Casey sent a letter to appropriators seeking to restore funding to the Hospital Preparedness Program. Today, Casey discussed the need to appropriately fund our nation’s public health infrastructure.
“During this time it’s important that we ensure that hospitals have the resources they need to treat patients and protect those that give lifesaving care to patients,” Senator Casey said. “Making adequate investments in public health has long been a bipartisan issue. In 2013 I successfully worked with Senator Burr of North Carolina to pass the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. As members of Congress consider the upcoming budget I will be working with both Democrats and Republicans to sure our investments in public health and hospital preparedness.”
Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (2013 Casey law)
- Enhances Collaboration and Coordination
- Federal Preparedness Leadership– Provides the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) with enhanced policy oversight and coordination of medical and public health preparedness and response programs.
- National Health Security Strategy– Emphasizes chemical, radiological, biological, and nuclear threats as part of an all-hazards approach to our National Preparedness Goals; promotes strategic initiatives to advance medical countermeasures (MCMs) development and procurement; strengthens state and local community resiliency; and highlights the unique needs and considerations of at-risk individuals.
- Public Health and Medical Surge Capacity– Reauthorizes and makes targeted enhancements to the National Disaster Medical System, the volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, and the Strategic National Stockpile.
- Biosurveillance–Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and follow through on plans to modernize national situational awareness and biosurveillance capabilities.
- Provides Targeted Flexibility
- State, Local, and Hospital Preparedness– Reauthorizes the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Hospital Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Programs. Streamlines the planning and administration of these programs to best meet the needs of communities, while enhancing existing oversight and benchmark requirements. Provides states with the flexibility to request voluntary temporary reassignment of federally-funded state and local public health department personnel to immediately address a public health emergency.
- MCMs Authorized Use Based on Threats and Emergencies– Enhances the Secretary’s ability to make MCMs under review available in limited circumstances based on either a declared emergency or identified threat. Clarifies the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to extend the expiration date of approved MCMs for the Strategic National Stockpile.
- Optimizes Medical Countermeasure Activities
- BioShield– Encourages further development of MCMs to address chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats by reauthorizing BioShield’s Special Reserve Fund. Requires HHS to report to Congress when the Special Reserve Fund falls below a certain threshold and the potential impact of such a reduction on addressing MCM priorities.
- Advanced Research and Development– Enhances the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority’s (BARDA’s) strategic focus on supporting the development of innovative and cutting-edge biodefense initiatives (e.g., platform technologies).
- MCM Acceleration– Charges the FDA with promoting MCM professional expertise and developing regulatory science tools to advance the review, approval, clearance, and licensure of MCMs within FDA as well as enhancing scientific exchange between FDA and MCM stakeholders.
- Increases Transparency and Accountability
- MCM Planning– Requires a biennial Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise Strategy and Implementation Plan and an internal HHS 5-year budget plan, both of which describe the progress made in addressing MCM priorities, including an availability of pediatric MCMs.
- Regulatory Management Plan– Requires FDA to work with sponsors and applicants of certain eligible MCMs to develop individualized regulatory management plans to improve regulatory certainty.