On March 10, the AAMC responded to a Feb. 27 request for information (RFI) from Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) regarding reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). Programs authorized through PAHPA are set to expire Sept. 30.
The AAMC’s comments highlighted the crucial role its members continue to play on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response and the unique perspective and capabilities that academic medical centers have to offer. It also emphasized the importance of clinical preparedness and supporting the health workforce as key components to bolstering preparedness.
Among other feedback, the AAMC response recommended the following:
Invest in and strengthen the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) by renewing the program’s authorization and providing robust funding levels for the program. The AAMC also supports the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR’s) efforts to ensure hospitals and health systems directly receive funding dedicated to preparedness.
Create a separate line item for the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Centers and Regional Emerging Special Pathogens Treatment Centers and related clinical networks at ASPR to distinguish it from the HPP and ensure robust investment in both programs.
Ensure commitment to clinical preparedness by equipping academic medical centers with the resources to build flexible surge infrastructure by providing funds for teaching hospitals to develop flexible intensive care unit capacity; expanding and scaling up existing established networks that address special pathogens and disaster response; and supporting infrastructure that builds physical hospital resilience against pandemics, climate events, and other disasters.
In addition, the response provided support and feedback on programs including the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative-agreement program, the Public Health Emergency Fund, and the Strategic National Stockpile.
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), HELP Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-La.), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) issued a similar RFI on March 15. Comments are due to the HELP Committee by close of business on March 29.
Many of the AAMC recommendations resemble input outlined in a June 2021 letter to the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee based on lessons learned from the experience of academic medical centers in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and other threats and crises [refer to Washington Highlights, June 21, 2021].