The Government Affairs Committee (GAC) wants to let you know that we working closely with the Healthcare Caucus (HCC) to keep a close eye on reauthorization of the "Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act" or PAHPA.
PAHPA was first signed into law in 2006, and then re-authorized in 2013 and 2019… with each reauthorization incorporating information gained from prior public health emergencies.
So how does PAHPA impact the non-Healthcare Emergency Manager? Well first, let me summarize for you some of the programs that PAHPA funds:
· The CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program grant which supports all of our local health departments with funding for personnel.
· The Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) grant which supports our ever-growing network of healthcare coalitions that are playing a more a more critical role on the local level
· The Medical Counter Measures program and the Strategic National Stockpile
All of these have an immediate impact on the local community!
Additionally, the Act impacts funding for:
· National Advisory Council on Children and Disasters, as well as ways for reaching out to other At-Risk populations
· Disease surveillance
· BARDA – Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority under ASPR (cutting edge development of resources like the Ebola vaccine)
· National Disaster Medical System and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams
HOWEVER, you will notice the last reauthorization was in 2019… JUST BEFORE the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Since 2019 we have learned more about the impacts of a Public Health Emergency on the Whole Community than we did in the preceding 17 years. This can be good and bad for programs that have become critical to how our communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies that have an impact on our healthcare systems (Hospitals, EMS, Licensed Care, Community Wellness/Public Health).
On June 13th the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing entitled "Legislative Solutions to Bolster Preparedness and Response for All Hazards and Public Health Security Threats." As expected, this hearing was the first of many that will begin to do a deep dive into not only our healthcare emergency preparedness, but our whole emergency preparedness framework. Some of the topics that are being examined:
· Supply Chain and Manufacturing limitations/resilience
· Data Privacy – Should the government have had as much access to population health data as we did (which was crucial to effective decision-making)
· Congressional Oversight in reviewing pandemic plans and strategies to ensure they have clear metrics of when an emergency begins/ends
If you have an hour, watch the hearing at the link above. You may be surprised by some of the conversations and arguments that you hear as areas of focus compared to what we dealt with on the front lines.
With that in mind, the GAC and HCC will continue to keep an eye on this, and will work to make sure our legislators get the opportunity to hear from Emergency Management professionals before any actual decisions on this critical funding are made.
I've said this before, and I will say it again… We should be prepared to be asked questions about why all of the previous Pandemic, Hospital Preparedness, Ebola, and other EM grant funding wasn't enough… or why it wasn't used to prevent or prepare for this. We should be proactive in our discussions and outreach to make sure we are on the front end of and have significant influence on any changes that may come out of the pandemic… not just simply asked to weigh in on changes that are written by others in a vacuum. This just happened to be a healthcare centric emergency… the next one could be an infrastructure driven emergency. At the end of the day, no matter the cause, it will always end up as OUR emergency. Let's do everything we can to make sure the system is set up the way we and our members need it to be so that we can do our jobs effectively as possible.
The Senate HELP Committee has released a discussion draft for the reauthorization of PAHPA. For context about why this legislation is important to emergency managers, refer back to the comments in this thread posted by Government Affairs Committee Vice-Chair Travis Cryan (THANK YOU TRAVIS!). The HELP Committee has set a deadline of Monday, July 10, for feedback on the discussion draft.
Here is the link to the HELP Committee's press release.
Here is the link to the discussion draft.
Here is a link to a story in Roll Call that provides some context on the policy and the politics of the legislation.
The Government Affairs Committee will work with the Healthcare Caucus as this bill moves through the process to ensure the interests of emergency managers are taken into account.
I hope we do not find ourselves back in the position we were in around Jan and Feb of 2020 when we had forgotten the importance of pandemic planning and preparedness. This is important legislation to stay on top of and engage.
The Senate HELP Committee favorably reported S.2333, the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Response Act right before the August recess. The path forward for PAHPARA when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day is unclear, but authorization for the bill expires on September 30, so Congress must act soon. For more information about why this bill is important to emergency managers, see Travis Cryan's post in this thread.
Click here to view PAHPARA text
Click here to view section by section
Click here to read the Committee's press release
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