Federal funds for disaster preparedness decline

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a total of $916 million in emergency preparedness grants for states and territories for fiscal year 2013, a decrease of $55 million from the previous year.

In a Jul 3 announcement, the HHS said the grants include $584 million for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement and a $332 million award for the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreement. Last year for the first time the HHS aligned the two programs to boost efficiency and streamline collaboration between the public health and healthcare systems.

Compared with last year, this latest funding trims $35 million from the PHEP grants and $20 million from the hospital preparedness grants. The funding is meant to address a wide range of public health threats in states, eight US territories, and four of the nation's largest metropolitan areas: Chicago, Los Angeles County, New York City, and Washington, DC.

The CDC administers the PHEP grants to support preparedness of state, local, and territorial public health systems. Meanwhile, the HPP grants are designed to enhance preparedness for healthcare systems, coalitions, and organizations.

Federal officials launched the two programs in 2001 as a response to terrorist attacks that year. Though funding held steady last year, levels have declined overall in recent years.

Nicole Lurie, MD, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said in the statement that recent events show the critical role the funding programs play in ensuring that health systems respond and recover quickly from events such as Hurricane Sandy or the Boston Marathon bombings.

Ali Kahn, MD, who directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office for Public Health Preparedness, said in the statement that so far this year, local and state health agencies have responded to eight foodborne outbreaks, two new global diseases, and 37 disaster and emergency declarations, "a clear indication of the breadth of threats that public health departments must be capable of responding to."

For states, PHEP funding includes a "base plus population" grant and a smaller Cities Readiness Initiative grant. In addition, eight states are earmarked to receive chemical lab grants for fiscal year 2013: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The annual PHEP and HPP grant cycle beings each Jul 1 and ends on Jun 30 of the following year.

See also:

Jul 3 HHS statement

Jul 3, 2012, CIDRAP News story "HHS awards preparedness grants, cites program alignment"

2013 PHEP and HPP funding tables

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