AAOS May 15, 2018
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AAOS and OTA Send Letter on Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI) of 2018

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AAOS and OTA Send Letter on Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI) of 2018

Last month, Senators Burr, Casey, Alexander, and Murray released a bipartisan discussion draft to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, making targeted improvements to the tools at our nation’s disposal to prepare for and respond to the threats that we face, whether naturally occurring like pandemic flu, or as a result of a deliberate attack on our country. The reauthorization legislation, titled the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI), focuses on improvements to programs within the original framework to address these 21st century threats. According to the legislators, Ebola, Zika, and a destructive hurricane season have all made clear that these threats are constantly evolving, requiring further work to protect our communities.

“We must be vigilant in our efforts to prepare for and respond to the very real threats our nation faces,” said Senator Burr. “Fostering and leveraging innovative technologies to improve our preparedness and response capabilities will encourage a nimble and flexible response to new and changing public health threats affecting our national security. These policies will improve existing tools and encourage new technologies to better protect the American people.  I look forward to feedback on this draft.”

In response, AAOS joined the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) to send a letter offering additional policy considerations.

“On behalf of more than 34,000 orthopaedic surgeons and residents represented by the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and over 2,100 orthopaedic trauma specialists represented by the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA), we thank you for the opportunity to comment on the discussion draft of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI),” the letter states. “Orthopaedic surgeons receive training in trauma and critical care and provide life and limb-saving care in emergency situations around the country and the world. We appreciate your work to improve our nation’s health disaster response infrastructure and hope to continue to partner with you.”

Specifically, AAOS and OTA are asking Congress to consider including in PAHPAI two pieces of legislation that fit within the goal of protecting our communities from threats to public health.

First, the MISSION Zero Act (S.1022, H.R.880), introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess and Senator Johnny Isakson, establishes a grant program for trauma centers to bring military trauma specialists to civilian hospitals. The legislation was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives on February 26, 2018 and referred to the Senate HELP Committee.

Second, the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act (H.R. 1876, S.781) provides liability protections to health care professionals, including physicians, who volunteer to help victims of federally-declared disasters. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Senator Bill Cassidy. The House Energy and Commerce Committee reported the bill by voice vote on February 14, 2018.

“The critical policy changes contained in the above pieces of legislation are crucial to safeguarding our communities and for engaging and recruiting physicians and surgeons to use their skills during declared disasters,” the letter concludes. “The AAOS and OTA commit to working with Congress to pursue new solutions promoting local, regional, and state flexibility on licensure and liability with simple and easy to use verifications that will ultimately ensure the greatest possible preparedness. Thank you for your consideration and for your work on this critical issue.”

The PAHPAI discussion draft can be found here.

A Section by Section is available here.