Medical preparedness act moves to Senate
The bill was read twice and then referred to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland and Governmental Affairs.
The legislation was sponsored by Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) in an effort to bolster U.S. preparedness activity in case of a major disaster, including the release of a biological agent or the emergence of a pandemic.
Bilirakis, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness Response and Communications, said he introduced the legislation in response to testimony from several hearings where emergency responders identified a need to stockpile emergency medical countermeasures.
The bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 by authorizing the Urban Area Security Initiative and the State Homeland Security Grant Program to fund medical surge capacity and mass prophylaxis capabilities, including the development and maintenance of an initial pharmaceutical stockpile, which includes medical kits, and diagnostics to protect first responders and their families from a mass chemical or biological event.
"Experts have repeatedly noted that the threat of a WMD attack is real," Bilirakis said. "We must work to ensure plans, medication and equipment are available to protect the public, including emergency response providers, in the event of an attack. The legislation passed by the House recognizes the continued importance of ensuring medical preparedness activities remain allowable grant uses. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this bill signed into law."