Ebola response focus of federal budget meeting

The Ebola Virus | Courtesy of the CDC
A hearing was held on Wednesday by the U.S. House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee regarding response efforts to combat the Ebola virus.

Top health officials gave testimony on the importance of bolstering the health system of the U.S. Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), stated an overview of the department's plan to develop a national network of treatment. This would include approximately 10 Ebola or other pathogen-specific treatment centers and treatment centers in each state or jurisdiction. They also plan to build healthcare facilities specifically to indentify cases and be able to send them to an appropriate treatment facility.

The use of emergency funding was also discussed, specifically relating to funds that were released at the end of 2014. Lurie also noted that hospitals nationwide provide a key role in preparedness and response protocol and stated that support should be increased through the Hospital Preparedness program.

According to a report from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, only $194.5 million has been allocated. The total emergency funding amounted to $576 million. Concerns were raised by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), specifically concerning hospitals that were not fully reimbursed for their measures against the Ebola virus.

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