Disaster Preparedness

State of Play:  The United States is under its first public health national emergency since President Obama declared H1N1 a national emergency in 2009.  The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in shortages of medical supplies, as well as at least one drug shortage from a lack of supply of certain necessary ingredients.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has renewed its emergency declaration for the opioid crisis. 

HLC Position:  The recent COVID-19 pandemic, weather-related disasters, and other security threats have raised awareness of their impact on the healthcare delivery system, requiring continual improvements in public-private disaster response coordination to ensure patient access to healthcare services and the essential functioning of the healthcare supply chain.  HLC believes that the healthcare industry plays a critical role in responding to disasters and emergencies and should receive priority, first-responder status for emergency response.  HLC continues to work closely with HHS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help craft a framework that will ensure the essential functioning of the healthcare supply chain and access to services during emergencies.

HLC Recent Activity:

  • On July 7, HLC sent a letter to OASH on an RFI related to health resilience
  • On March 23, HLC signed a coalition letter to Senate leadership expressing support for S. 3539, a bill to exempt telehealth services from certain high-deductible health plan rules during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • On March 20, HLC signed a coalition letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting immediate action to adapt the Lifeline program to meet the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On March 18, HLC signed a group letter recommending actions to ensure that necessary resources reach the communities most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On March 11, HLC signed a coalition letter to House and Senate leadership on strengthening telehealth for COVID-19.
  • In March, HLC signed a coalition letter supporting the inclusion in COVID-19 stimulus legislation of subsidies for COBRA insurance continuation of coverage for workers who lose health benefits due to loss of a job or a reduction in hours.
  • HLC has provided liaison between its members and federal officials to respond to issues related to COVID-19.
  • In March, HLC wrote Senate and House committees holding hearings related to COVID-19. HLC highlighted private-sector responses to the pandemic.
  • HLC and Deloitte continue to collaborate to build HLC’s roadmap and action items of a public-private partnership for disaster preparedness and response. Deloitte has agreed to interview HLC members and subject matter experts to yield data that will better enable HLC to work with HHS and DHS, among others.
  • HLC and Deloitte have agreed to work together in 2020 to build out HLC’s roadmap and action items on a public-private partnership for disaster preparedness and response. Deloitte has agreed to work with HLC on a pro bono basis for a limited period of time.
  • On November 7, HLC met with the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health to discuss collaboration on improving the nation’s readiness to respond to disasters and catastrophic events.
  • On October 15, HLC met with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exchange ideas on the role of the private sector, and HLC particularly, regarding enhancing the reliability of the healthcare system day-to-day and during large-scale emergencies.
  •  On October 10, HLC attended an invitation-only National Academies workshop on enhancing private sector preparedness for 21st century health threats. The workshop focused on roles for private sector entities, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and other government agencies in implementation advancing private sector preparedness.
  • In August, HLC attended ASPR’s Innovation Day, which launched ASPR NEXT, a new program to spur innovation in the development of new technologies and products that can be used to provide lifesaving care in austere circumstances.
  • On July 19, HLC attended a workshop hosted by the National Academy of Sciences on enhancing private sector preparedness for 21st century health threats. The workshop focused on opportunities for public-private collaboration, levers to motivate private sector investment in preparedness, and information/data elements that would improve situational awareness of system capabilities.
  • On July 16, HLC met with Captain Carol Lincoln, public health advisor, ASPR, to discuss the Healthcare and Public Health Sector Partnership, and further opportunities for HLC engagement in disaster preparedness.
  • On June 13, HLC hosted Dr. Stephen Redd, deputy director for public health service and implementation science and director for the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response, at its June Policy Committee meeting to discuss HLC’s role in supporting the CDC’s disaster preparedness and response agenda.
  • On June 10, HLC met with ASPR staff to discuss a draft project outline HLC proposed regarding the formation of a public-private partnership on disaster preparedness.
  • In May, HLC produced a draft project outline and engaged in conversations with the CDC and ASPR regarding the formation of a public-private partnership on disaster preparedness.
  • HLC hosted the CDC at its May 2 Policy Committee meeting. CDC officials emphasized the importance of a coordinated public-private effort to improve readiness for disasters.
  • On March 21, HLC signed a group letter to House and Senate leadership to advance the “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act” (PAHPAI, H.R. 269), which authorizes policies and funding to bring about greater coordination among public and private health entities in large-scale disasters.
  • On January 23, HLC hosted Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, at the Patient Safety and Quality Task Force. Kadlec spoke about public-private partnerships to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters.