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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate HELP Committee Advances Legislation to Reauthorize PAHPA

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee May 23 advanced the manager’s amendment to the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 (PAHPAI; S. 2852) by a vote of 22-1. Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) indicated at the hearing that he hopes to have the full Senate consider the legislation on June 20.

    Introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and cosponsored by Sens. Alexander, Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the legislation reauthorizes the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) along with the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The bill builds on a discussion draft released by the HELP committee on April 26 [see, Washington Highlights, May 11].

    The AAMC joined 20 patient, provider and public health groups in signing a May 22 letter expressing support for the legislation but urging the committee to increase the funding authorization levels. The letter states, “As PAHPAI moves forward, we recommend the Committee increase authorized funding levels for all programs described above so that they are better able to achieve their respective missions.”

    At the hearing, Sen. Burr spoke in support of the legislation, stating, “This is a great step in supporting the programs and policies we have in place to prepare for and respond to worst-case scenarios, like pandemic influenza or a deliberate attack on our country.” Sen. Murray also applauded the legislation, stating, “This strong reauthorization builds on our past efforts to protect our communities with new steps to ensure we are working to prepare for every scenario, and for every family and their unique needs. The passage of this bill is a testament to the bipartisan agreement on the importance of making investments and making plans to keep our families safe and healthy when public health emergencies strike.”

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only senator to vote against the bill, which will now be considered by the full Senate.