Legislation renewed to improve nation's ability to respond to bioattack

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved legislation to renew and tweak a law passed in 2006 that is credited with improving the nation’s ability to respond to a public health emergency.

The committee’s approval of the bill to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 was lauded by the nonprofit group Trust for America’s Health, CIDRAP News reports. TFAH announced that though the bill freezes funding at current levels, it would give states more flexibility in responding to disasters.

"We're very pleased to see them work together on a bipartisan basis," Rebecca Salay, director of government relations for TFAH, said, CIDRAP News reports.

Jeffrey Levi, TFAH’s executive director, praised the committee for passing the legislation. He said the bill would improve the ability of the U.S. health care system to expand quickly beyond normal services in case of an emergency and allow personnel from other federal agencies to be redirected into public health efforts.

The bill also supports the National Security Strategy by creating ambulatory care facilities and addressing the needs for enhanced surge capacity at hospitals that treat children and other at-risk groups.

Levi also praised the new legislation for calling for a new review of biosurveillance systems, specifically the nation’s lack of an integrated approach to monitoring the outbreak of new diseases, according to CIDRAP News.