07.19.06

Senate HELP Committee Approves Burr’s Bipartisan Public Health and Medical Preparedness and Response Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions today unanimously approved S. 3678, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act authored by Senator Richard Burr. Cosponsors of the legislation include: Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Bill Frist (R-TN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Ted Kennedy (D-MA).



"We have learned from Katrina and 9/11 that we must do more to improve our public health and medical response systems must respond faster," said Senator Burr. "This legislation will enhance training and planning for health care providers to ensure emergency medical care is delivered more rapidly during a disaster."



Burr's bill reauthorizes the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which was signed into law following the terrorist attacks of September 11th and will expire at the end of September 2006. This law made important improvements in our ability to detect bioterrorist attacks and to care for a greater number of patients in an emergency.



The legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Burr would improve our public health and medical preparedness and responses during emergencies and disasters.



"I am pleased the Senate HELP Committee voted to approve this legislation unanimously," Burr said. "I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on this important issue."



Specifically, the legislation would:



Put someone in charge. The legislation identifies the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the lead federal official responsible for public health and medical response to emergencies including a flu pandemic. The Secretary would prepare and implement a coordinated strategy for public health emergency preparedness and response.


Speed up coordinated responses to medical emergencies. The bill would improve training, logistics, and planning for health care providers to ensure emergency medical care can be delivered more rapidly during a disaster. It would also promote the use of mobile medical assets and alternative federal facilities which would provide greater ability to handle an increased number of patients during an emergency.


Establish standard of preparedness from state-to-state. The legislation requires individual states to meet performance standards developed by the Secretary of HHS to ensure all states have a basic level of preparedness for disasters.


Fund public health and medical preparedness. The bill provides over $1 billion per year in federal funding through grants from HHS for public health and medical preparedness.


Organize medical volunteers. The legislation creates a system to promote, organize, train, and support health care volunteers during a disaster.


The Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, chaired by Senator Burr, held seven public hearings and roundtables prior to the introduction of the legislation. The hearings explored public health and medical preparedness and lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, June 14, Senator Burr held a field hearing on public health preparedness in New Orleans, Louisiana to explore the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.



For more information go to https://www.burr.senate.gov



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