Affordable Care Act Helps States Prevent, Fight Infectious Diseases

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced awards of $48.8 million to bolster epidemiology, laboratory and health information systems in health departments in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, the District of Columbia, New York City, Los Angeles County, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston.

These awards represent the third year of funding made possible by the Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund for the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreements.

Todays awards support the critical work of public health departments to prevent, track and respond to new and emerging infectious diseases, says Sebelius.

With Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity program support, state, local, and territorial health departments improve disease reporting and monitoring by hiring and training staff, investing in information technology, and buying laboratory equipment and supplies for diagnosing emerging pathogens.

Some specific highlights from the awards include:

- Forty-nine states, the district and Puerto Rico will receive funding to carry out strategies to protect patients from healthcare-associated infections, and 16 of those will receive funding to prevent healthcare-associated infections across the spectrum of healthcare by building multi-facility prevention initiatives (California, Colorado, Connecticut., Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland., Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin).

- Forty-nine states, five large cities, the district, and Puerto Rico will receive funds to develop and sustain capacity to participate in meaningful use of electronic health records, e.g. through implementation of electronic laboratory-based reporting according to national standards, allowing for more efficient and effective information exchange within the state and with CDC. Four states will receive additional funding to advance the national implementation of electronic laboratory records specifically addressing healthcare-associated infections (Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina and New Mexico).

- All 50 states, the district, the five largest cities, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Palau will receive funds for the continued support of flexible, cross-cutting public health epidemiology and laboratory staff, equipment, supplies, travel, and training to sustain and improve their capacity to detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases.

Overall, the awards include $45.4 million in Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund resources ($35.3 million for epidemiology-laboratory capacity, $9.3 million for healthcare-associated infections, and $0.8 million for immunization) and $3.4 million in annual appropriations.