AHA today submitted comments to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on draft legislation to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, currently set to expire Sept. 30. Among other provisions, the bill would reauthorize the Hospital Preparedness Program and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program through 2023. AHA urged the committee to ensure that HPP remains a distinct program under the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s authority and increase its annual authorization level to $515 million. AHA also recommended the committee permit state, regional and metropolitan hospital associations, academic medical centers and health systems to compete for the HPP award for their jurisdiction, and define “sub-recipients” to include regional health care coalitions. AHA voiced support for developing voluntary regional disaster health care systems, but recommended additional time to implement them and adequate funding to sustain them. Among other changes, AHA urged the committee to clarify that the public health emergency fund is intended for rapid response to emerging emergencies, not ongoing health threats, and create a mechanism to replenish the fund as necessary. AHA also urged the committee to incorporate into the draft bill AHA-supported legislation that would extend liability standards under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 to licensed health professionals who volunteer in another state during a disaster.

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