Senators Call for More Public Health FundingMarch 30, 2020, 9:47 AM HST (Updated March 30, 2020, 9:47 AM)
Several in Congress believe more funding is needed to prepare for health crises.
Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), along with 25 Senate colleagues, called Monday for increased funding in Fiscal Year 2021 for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP) and the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). These programs enable hospitals and public health departments to prepare to prevent, respond and rapidly recover from public health crises.
Recent legislation has provided supplemental emergency funds for both the PHEP and HPP to respond to COVID-19. Although this additional funding is necessary and welcome to provide immediate assistance to the health care system, it underscores that the regular annual appropriations are insufficient to empower the health care system to adequately respond to public health emergencies.
In a letter, the Senators called on appropriators to allocate enough funding to achieve long-term preparedness so that hospitals and public health departments do not move too slowly and ineffectively from one crisis to the next.
“As we confront COVID-19, the federal government must also make the important investments to ensure that our hospitals, public health systems and their respective preparedness programs are ready to face future challenges,” the Senators wrote. “Without increased funding, state and local health officials will face difficult choices about how to prioritize federal dollars, potentially leaving our communities unprepared when new public health threats emerged.”
“We ask that you increase federal funding for PHEP and HPP to ensure that public health agencies, hospitals and health care coalitions have the necessary resources to respond to public health and other emergencies and disasters.”