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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)Â has awarded more than $971 million to continue improving preparedness and health outcomes for a wide range of public health threats within every state, eight U.S. territories, and four of the nations largest metropolitan areas.
Healthcare and public health systems that are prepared to respond successfully to emergencies and recover quickly from all hazards are also able to deliver services more effectively and efficiently every day, says Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response. Having systems in place to provide better treatment for disaster survivors and improved public health for our communities also leads to better health outcomes on a day-to-day basis.
The funding awards included a total of approximately $352 million awarded for the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreement and more than $619 million awarded for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement.
Administered by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), HPP funding supports preparedness for healthcare systems, healthcare coalitions, and healthcare organizations. HHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administers PHEP funding to support the preparedness of state, local and territorial public health systems.
HPP and PHEP funding helps recipients build and sustain public health and healthcare preparedness capabilities outlined in ASPRs Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities: National Guidance for Healthcare System Preparedness and in CDCs Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning. These documents establish standards for protecting human health and national health security.
For the first time, the HPP and PHEP funds are being awarded jointly, encouraging cooperation between the nations healthcare and public health systems. This change follows a year-long effort by ASPR and CDC to align the two federal preparedness programs. These programs represent critical sources of funding and support for public health and healthcare preparedness systems.
Improved coordination among federal emergency preparedness programs is a high priority of HHS and other federal entities, as well as for HPP and PHEP awardees. In December 2010, ASPR, CDC, and other federal partners began developing strategies to better align grants with public health and healthcare preparedness components.
State and local agencies have made tremendous progress over the past decade in building and sustaining public health and healthcare preparedness capabilities, Lurie says. "The integration fostered by HPP and PHEP alignment is important in streamlining and strengthening the day-to-day relationships and cross-sector cooperation that are critical to achieving a resilient health system ready to face any health hazard and capable of providing the affordable, high-quality daily care that all Americans deserve.
With aligned HPP and PHEP cooperative agreement programs, states and communities can more easily, efficiently, and effectively conduct joint planning, exercising, and program operations. These activities are vital in preparing communities to respond and recover from emergencies and help communities manage healthcare and public health on a daily basis.
Lurie noted that as access to healthcare increases, more Americans are likely to seek care from primary care providers and health clinics to address these day-to-day health issues rather than visiting emergency departments. With fewer people seeking basic care in emergency rooms, hospitals can care for a greater number of patients during emergencies.
ASPR and CDC aligned HPP and PHEP cooperative agreements to advance all-hazards preparedness and national health security, promote responsible stewardship of federal funds, and reduce the administrative burden for grant recipients. The programs support complementary preparedness capabilities and performance measures, use the same processes for grants administration, technical assistance and data management, use common reporting requirements, and have compatible IT systems.
While closely aligned in many aspects, HPP and PHEP will continue to remain individual programs, in accordance with authorizing legislation. HPP and PHEP budgets also will remain separate, to ensure accountability for the statutory requirements of each separate funding stream.
This alignment has resulted in several key changes for the 2012 HPP-PHEP grant cycle. Among the changes are a single HPP-PHEP funding opportunity announcement, funding application, and grant award, as well as a single grants administration agency, CDCs Procurement and Grants Office. An aligned grant cycle is also being implemented, with the annual HPP-PHEP grant cycle beginning each July 1 and ending on June 30 of the following year.