HPP budget cuts decrease national emergency preparedness

A recent federal spending bill cut the budget for the Health and Human Services' Hospital Preparedness Program by approximately $100 million, which has ended emergency preparedness programs in some states due to insufficient funds.

"Completion of the regional surge plan will be put on the back burner, as I will not have the personnel or capacity to work on it," Paulette Valentine, the emergency preparedness director for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said, according to Emergency Management.

Utah relies on grants from the government to fund its emergency preparedness program, including training drills, medical tools and emergency housing for persons in need during disasters. Valentine said that the loss of funding may lead to the inability to prepare response teams for times of emergency, potentially making any disaster that hits the state more devastating, Emergency Management reports.

Some states, such as Philadelphia, rely on HPP grants to pay emergency preparedness staff member salaries and are concerned the budget cuts may lead to downsizing and an ultimately underprepared response team when health emergencies do occur.

"These cuts will make it very challenging for health-care coalitions to expand and be maintained," Steve Alles, the public health preparedness program manager from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said, according to Emergency Management.

The HPP is responsible for funding emergency preparedness programs across the nation. Those teams are responsible for responding to the various unexpected emergencies that occur throughout the nation, including natural disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy and terrorist attacks, such as the shooting at the Center movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the Boston Marathon bombings.