HHS to distribute $1.4 billion in biodefense funds to states

Mar 20, 2003 (CIDRAP News) – US states and territories will receive a total of nearly $1.4 billion for bioterrorism preparedness this year, and 20% of that will be available almost immediately to support smallpox vaccination or other needs, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today.

Of the total, $870 million is designated for public health agencies, and $498 million is for hospital preparedness for possible bioterrorist attacks or other mass-casualty events, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced.

"Once again, we are rapidly getting federal funding for public health preparedness into the hands of our states and hospitals," Thomspon said. States that so request will get 20% of their share soon, but HHS will hold the remainder until the states submit their public health and hospital preparedness plans, including regional plans for interstate regions. HHS followed a similar procedure in 2002.

The first 20% of the money can be used to fund smallpox vaccinations, to support activities that were included in 2002 state plans but now need more money, and to enhance or accelerate "critical activities" included in last year's plans, Thompson said. He said states will be told within the next week how to apply for the advance portion of the funding.

The state shares, including both public health and hospital money, range from $7.5 million for Wyoming to $94.4 million for California (exclusive of Los Angeles). Three large urban areas will receive separate grants: Los Angeles County, $40.1 million; New York City, $33.7 million; and Chicago, $15.5 million.

HHS officials said the funds are part of a total of about $3.5 billion in HHS funds for bioterrorism preparedness, including research grants, in fiscal year 2003. This total is up from about $1.8 billion in fiscal 2002.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will administer the public health portion of the funds, while the Health Resources and Services Administration will administer the hospital funds, officials said.

The HHS announcement did not list the types of activities for which the grants are intended, other than smallpox vaccinations and hospital preparedness. Last year officials outlined five main purposes for the money: to develop state preparedness plans, improve infectious disease surveillance, enhance hospital preparedness, expand public health laboratory and communication capacities, and improve disease-reporting communication among hospitals and public health agencies.

See also:

HHS news release

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