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October 23, 2018 (Cleveland)

Hospital Preparedness Program Awaits U.S. Senate on Funding Reauthorization

Hospital Preparedness Program Awaits U.S. Senate on Funding ReauthorizationThe future of the Hospital Preparedness Program rests with the U.S. Senate. This is the program that ultimately funds The Center for Health Affairs’ emergency preparedness work. In late September, the House of Representatives passed legislation to extend the Hospital Preparedness Program through federal fiscal year 2023.

H.R. 6378, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation (PAHPAI) Act of 2018, calls for $385 million each year to support the program. This is an increase from the current authorized level of $374.7 million and substantially more than the previous version of the House bill, which would have provided only $264.6 million per year.

The legislation has moved to the Senate, where it still awaits action, with only a few weeks from now through the end of the year when the Senate will be in session. If not passed by year’s end, Congress will have to start over again with an all new legislative effort at the start of the new session in 2019.

Because Congress failed to pass the reauthorization before the last federal fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, the 2019 program, which should be getting started this fall with a federal funding opportunity announcement to states, is on hold. But that doesn’t mean The Center for Health Affairs isn’t busy. Currently, the organization is in the middle of implementing plans for the funding year that began this summer and extends through June 2019.

Over the last few months, The Center designed the hospital portions of two regional full-scale exercises, a table-top exercise for organizations other than hospitals that are now required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to collaborate with hospital planning work, and a patient surge workshop for core planning and response partners in the region. On deck is another exercise scheduled for next month to test coalition surge capabilities. All of these activities are crucial not only from the perspective of ensuring an effective coordinated response to any emergency event in the region, but they also facilitate hospitals’ abilities to meet requirements set forth by The Joint Commission and CMS.

The Joint Commission incorporates emergency response into its accreditation process through its Emergency Management Standard. As a result, much of the work accomplished under the federal grants does double duty to ensure hospitals are meeting the requirements established by the Joint Commission. CMS regulations emphasize creating a communication plan, developing a comprehensive all-hazards emergency response plan, establishing appropriate policies and procedures based on risk assessments, and implementing training and testing. 

The Center will be keeping a watchful eye on Congress in the coming weeks in anticipation of Senate activity on the Hospital Preparedness Program reauthorization. For more on The Center’s emergency preparedness work, contact us.