U.S. Congress Should Increase Funding For Public Health Emergency Fund To Address Disease Outbreaks, Says Commentary

Chicago Tribune: Commentary: Ebola is raging again — and the U.S. is not ready
Former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), the first U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, both co-chairs of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense
 
“Five years ago, the Ebola virus broke through inadequate public health systems in West Africa and spread throughout the world. America was lucky. Only a few cases traveled here, but the U.S. government also did not respond as we had reason to expect. … Today, the threat from Ebola is more serious. The World Health Organization has declared it to be a global public health emergency … Outbreaks are costly. Public health responses to Ebola, Zika, MERS, SARS, and other diseases cost tens of billions of dollars, much of which can be avoided by taking preventive action. Congress can wait until Ebola or some equally deadly infectious disease arrives in our country, overwhelms state, local, tribal, and territorial health care and public health capacity, and threatens lives and then provide billions in emergency supplemental funding. Or Congress can now recognize that these significant disease events will continue to occur and proactively take steps to ensure we can respond by creating a standing response fund. In 2018, the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, which we co-chair, issued a report called Budget Reform for Biodefense. In it, we recommended $2 billion for the Public Health Emergency Fund … We hope that Congress will take up this recommendation soon, before Ebola — or another disease to which we are not paying as much attention — sickens and kills too many people here in the United States” (9/6).

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