The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee today held a hearing on draft legislation that would reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act through 2023. The draft legislation would authorize $264.6 million in annual funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program, down from $374.7 million currently. In a letter to the bill’s co-sponsors, Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), AHA urged the subcommittee to return the annual authorization level to at least $515 million to address the growing threats that hospitals, health systems and communities face and the program’s proposed expansion to include response activities and cybersecurity. AHA voiced support for the proposal to allow health systems, state hospital associations and health care coalitions to compete with health departments for HPP funds in their state or jurisdiction, and urged the subcommittee to also explicitly permit academic medical centers and metropolitan and regional hospital associations to compete for the awards. In addition, the association recommends amending the draft legislation to formally keep the HPP and Public Health Emergency Preparedness programs separate under their respective agencies. The AHA also opposes the proposal to use transfers from other discretionary Health and Human Services programs to finance the Public Health Emergency Fund and recommends limiting the fund’s use to a declared or potential public health emergency. Testifying at the hearing, National Association of County and City Health Officials President Umair Shah, M.D., executive director for Harris County (TX) Public Health, also called for increased funding for the HPP. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month approved legislation (S. 2852) that would reauthorize the HPP and PHEP program through 2023, with a 2.7% increase in authorized funding for HPP.

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