The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) on May 11 featuring two panels of witnesses, including the leaders of three agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services.
The witnesses provided the subcommittee with input on PAHPA, highlighting key authorities to bolster their respective agency’s response to threats as Congress develops legislation to reauthorize the law before it expires on Sept. 30. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) indicated that their Feb. 27 request for information about PAHPA reauthorization received over 250 responses from various medical and public health partners, including the AAMC [refer to Washington Highlights, March 17].
Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) emphasized the importance of preparing for all hazards and threats and restoring trust in public health. Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) highlighted strengthening the public health workforce, health care supply chains, and the authorities of the nation’s public health agencies to build a nimble and effective public health infrastructure. Eshoo spoke about her role in developing the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and stressed the importance of providing BARDA with additional authorities to better protect the nation from future threats.
Members of the subcommittee asked the witnesses about various aspects of PAHPA including the Strategic National Stockpile, supply chains for pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment, protecting vulnerable populations in emergencies, cybersecurity threats, and the need for real-time, interoperable data to share with states and local public health departments.
They also asked witnesses what the May 11 end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including the end of Title 42, would mean for the nation’s public health response. In many of their replies, the witnesses emphasized the need for additional authorities, including some that were made possible by the public health emergency declaration, as well as the reforms their respective agencies were making from the lessons learned from the pandemic.