A total of 69 health organizations, including the AAMC, sent an Oct. 23 letter urging House and Senate leadership “to provide emergency supplemental funding for critical public health, health care, and behavioral health services to address the ongoing crises in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and other states impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.”
The letter describes the need for health-related investments to address infectious disease, environmental health, the needs of special populations, and access to mental health services, among other priorities, in the areas affected by the recent hurricanes.
To date, the 115th Congress has considered two supplemental spending bills to address hurricanes and other disasters, primarily through resources to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The continuing resolution (P.L. 115-56) enacted Sept. 8 provided $15.25 billion in aid, while a second $36.5 billion package (H.Res. 569) awaits the president’s signature after the Senate cleared it Oct. 24. Appropriators have discussed the potential for a third aid package.
In addition to the request for emergency supplemental funding, the letter encourages lawmakers to maintain the annual investment in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) in the Department of Health and Human Services, to ensure ongoing readiness for future disasters.