Public Health and Medical Preparedness and Response: Issues in the 111th Congress [February 10, 2009] [open pdf - 320KB]
"Key recent events--the 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and concerns about an influenza ('flu') pandemic, among others--sharpened congressional interest in the nation's systems to track and respond to public health threats. The 109th Congress passed several laws that established, reorganized, or reauthorized key public health and medical preparedness and response programs in the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS). The 110th Congress was engaged in oversight of the implementation of these laws, focused in particular on such matters as (1) the fitness of HHS and DHS--in terms of authority, funding, policies, and workforce--to respond to health emergencies; (2) the effectiveness of coordination among them and other federal agencies; and (3) the status of major initiatives such as pandemic flu preparedness and disaster planning for at-risk populations. The 111th Congress is likely to remain engaged in oversight of the nation's readiness for health threats. [...]. The 111th Congress may review HHS's disaster response capabilities, including its authority to declare a public health emergency and the means to fund its response efforts. [...]. At this time, there is no federal assistance program designed purposefully to cover the uncompensated or uninsured health care costs for disaster victims. The 111th Congress may reconsider earlier proposals to provide such assistance under certain circumstances. [...]. This report summarizes key issues in domestic public health and medical preparedness and response, citing other CRS Reports and sources of additional information."
CRS Report for Congress, R40159