Disaster Preparedness

State of Play:   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) are the primary agencies reasonable for preparing for and responding to natural and man-made threats to public health.  Both the CDC and ASPR actively engage in public-private partnerships to support health security efforts.  In February, ASPR published three pillars to expand the National Disaster Medical System’s (NDMS) service capabilities and provide a robust response to any disaster:  1) A Pediatric Disaster Care Program created to establish a National Disaster Pediatric Network; 2) Medicare Care for Infectious Disease Patients to focus on isolation and quarantine services and transport for infectious disease patients; and 3) Aeromedical Patient Support where NDMS has trained more than 200 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other clinicians for air medical evacuation to operate alongside Defense Department counterparts on military aircraft. 

HLC Position: Weather-related disasters and 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 communicate with the appropriate government officials to share information and ideas on disaster response strategies and capabilities, working to ensure the continuing operation of healthcare facilities, as well as production and distribution of critical supplies during catastrophic times.

HLC Recent Activity:

  • 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.