April 26, 2007 - Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Ed Markey (D-MA) and other Members of the House and Senate released a report conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Federal efforts to improve the state of the nation's public health and hospital emergency preparedness programs.
The GAO found that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) currently has no standards to "compare data across recipients to measure collective progress, compare progress across recipients' programs or provide consistent feedback to recipients."
While HHS acknowledges that work needs to be done to improve the grant process and plans to provide a snapshot of the progress recipients have made in building emergency readiness capacity by the end of 2007, there is little progress and the 2007 deadline remains tentative.
Chairman Thompson issued the following statement regarding the findings:
"This is an incredible indictment of the emergency preparedness programs that HHS administers. In the event of a catastrophe, most people will flood the public health system. This report indicates that currently we have no way of knowing which hospital is up to the task. It is critical to our security that our health systems have the tools they need to respond to any and all emergencies including bioterrorist events, natural disasters or an influenza pandemic. HHS is playing Russian Roulette with the health of the nation. When tragedy strikes people need to be able to rely on their government. We all deserve better."
For more information contact Dena Graziano or Todd Levett at (202) 225-9978.