Public Health and Medical Response to Disasters: Federal Authority and Funding [Updated August 1, 2008] [open pdf - 228KB]
This CRS report provides an updated analysis of the tools used by the federal government to respond to and assist communities affected by disasters. More specifically, "this report examines (1) the authorities and coordinating mechanisms of the President and the Secretary of HHS (Health and Human Services) in providing routine assistance, and assistance pursuant to emergency or major disaster declarations and/or public health emergency determinations; (2) mechanisms to assure a coordinated federal response to public health and medical emergencies, and overlaps or gaps in agency responsibilities; and (3) existing mechanisms, potential gaps, and proposals for financing the costs of a response to public health and medical emergencies. A listing of federal public health emergency authorities is provided in the Appendix. This report will be updated as needed. [...] The flawed response to Hurricane Katrina, and preparedness efforts for an influenza ('flu') pandemic, have each raised concerns about existing federal response mechanisms for incidents that result in overwhelming public health and medical needs. These concerns include the delegation of responsibilities among different federal departments, and whether critical conflicts or gaps exist in these relationships. In particular, there are some concerns about federal leadership and delegations of responsibility as laid out in the recently published National Response Framework (NRF)."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33579