Eshoo, Brooks Introduce Legislation to Combat Biodefense Threats
“The September 11th attacks on our country and the deadly anthrax attacks that followed in 2001 motivated me and former Rep. Richard Burr to create PAHPA to coordinate responses to public health emergencies and develop necessary medical countermeasures,” Rep. Eshoo said. “PAHPA updates the original legislation to meet the challenges of today, such as the demands placed on our heath care response systems by the increasing number and severity of natural disasters, the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, and the continued need to develop medical countermeasure products for which there is not a commercial market. I look forward to continuing to partner with Rep. Brooks to swiftly reauthorize this legislation before it expires in September.”
“Strengthening our country’s national preparedness and response efforts for public health emergencies is critically important as the threats we are facing are constantly changing,” said Rep. Brooks. “We face threats from devastating hurricanes and viruses such as Ebola or Nipah, as well as ongoing threats of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks from terrorist organizations or foreign countries who wish to do us harm. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation in the House with original PAHPA author Representative Eshoo, along with Representatives Walden and Pallone, as it will ensure our health care professionals are trained to respond to possible pandemic outbreaks, prioritize the further development of our national stockpile of vaccines, medical equipment and diagnostics, and establish new advisory groups focused on protecting vulnerable populations such as senior citizens and people with disabilities during public health threats and emergencies.”
The legislation strengthens and improves our national preparedness and response for public health emergencies through our hospitals, state and local health providers, and by accelerating medical countermeasure research and development. Specifically, the legislation focuses on the needs of special populations including children, people with disabilities and seniors before and during a public health emergency. It codifies the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise and the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), while maintaining the important role of the Centers for Disease Control in emergency and response activities. The legislation also provides the authorization and federal resources to invest in programs related to Pandemic Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases.
In addition, PAHPA:
- Creates a Public Health Emergency Response Fund for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use as a bridge when we face an outbreak like Ebola or the deadly Nipah virus so that immediate funding is available that Congress can then supplement with an emergency appropriations bill.
- Reauthorizes funding to improve bioterrorism and other public health emergency preparedness and response activities such as the Hospital Preparedness Program, the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement, Project BioShield, and BARDA for the advanced research and development of medical countermeasures (MCMs).