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Sunday, January 31, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on Public Health and Emergency Preparedness

Sarah A. Lister, Coordinator
Specialist in Public Health and Epidemiology

The H1N1 influenza pandemic provided policymakers with a mixed review of the nation's readiness to respond to health threats. In many respects the pandemic response was streamlined by prior planning efforts. Nonetheless, the incident has refocused congressional attention on a number of unresolved issues with respect to the federal role in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies. Among them, how should the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS) operationalize their shared responsibility in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies? How can federal officials determine if a state is sufficiently prepared, and what activities should states be required to undertake using federal grant funds? How can the federal government assure the availability of drugs and vaccines for bioterrorism when there is no commercial market for these products? To what extent, if any, should the federal government be responsible for the costs of health care for disaster victims? The 111th Congress has been and will likely remain invested in these and many other issues through consideration of authorizing and appropriations legislation, and the conduct of oversight and investigations.

Date of Report: January 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 4
Order Number: IS40370
Price: $7.95

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