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For the sake of public health preparedness here in the United States, as well as humanitarian assistance in West Africa, Congress should approve President Barack Obama’s request for $6.18 billion in emergency funding to combat Ebola.
Many Democrats are hoping to use their last days of Senate control to install President Barack Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy. The young doctor has been awaiting confirmation since the president tapped him for the post last November. And this week is the chamber’s last opportunity to act before the GOP majority takes the helm in January.
With the lame-duck session set to wrap-up this week, the clock is ticking for Congress to rise above Washington gridlock and give millions of Americans with disabilities a chance for a better financial future.
The Ebola virus, which has now touched our shores and taken the lives of two victims in the U.S., is a threat lethal enough to demand full mobilization of our health care resources, which is what federal officials have urged. Consequently, hospitals in recent weeks have been arming themselves with the necessary knowledge, supplies and resources to confront the danger and ensure it is contained and managed skillfully.
Texas Democrat Gene Green appears poised to take the top Democratic slot on the House Energy and Commerce panel that handles health legislation next year after current ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. takes the top Democrat spot on the full committee.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act’s incentive to encourage “meaningful use” of electronic health records has helped hundreds of thousands of eligible providers begin using EHRs to store patient data, coordinate and communicate about their patients’ care, engage in data measurement, quality monitoring efforts designed to improve outcomes and lower costs. Unfortunately, behavioral health and substance-use treatment providers were never fully included in this program. As a result, they have limited access to EHRs and the essential tools they provide.
Our health care system is undergoing profound changes in how we pay for and deliver care. Yet some of our most intractable health problems — such as obesity, diabetes, tobacco use and emerging diseases — require creative public health approaches as well as high-quality, efficient care. Addressing the health issues that matter to Americans will require bipartisan compromise guided by strong leadership from medical professionals.
Far less famous than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health is a program at the heart of the fight against diseases such as the flu and Ebola — the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA.
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has a ready answer when asked to name a biological threat he especially dreads: the flu.
Lawmakers are using the Ebola outbreak to call for a broader investment in biomedical research and public health funding to avoid scrambling to respond to a specific disease.
Appropriators are expected to include significant extra funding in an omnibus spending package to help agencies continue responding to the Ebola outbreak, but the final number will be less than President Barack Obama requested.
I’m with the Kentucky Air National Guard and recently returned from a humanitarian mission in Senegal, West Africa, to fight Ebola. We established a cargo hub to distribute medical supplies to African countries treating patients. I’m proud to serve our country and be at the forefront for fighting Ebola. I volunteered for this mission because it was essential to provide public health resources not only at home, but abroad as well. Since I’m a resident of Florida, I understand that we are merely one flight away from infectious diseases being introduced into the population. And, I’m a firm believer that we should be assisting with public health efforts globally to any country or continent in need.
Pandemics as rapid and devastating as the current Ebola outbreak, although rare, serve as an important reminder of the critical security and humanitarian work the U.S. does around the world and here at home — not with drones and air bases, but with medical tents and syringes.
When it comes to obesity, my home state of Alabama is usually the bearer of bad news. Only 10 states have a higher childhood obesity rate than we do and only seven states have a higher rate among adults. Our rankings are even worse when we talk about causes of obesity and related health conditions — we have the highest rate of adult diabetes in the nation.
For the past eight years, I have been working to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (HR 647, S 133), legislation that will lead to a brighter future for millions of Americans living with disabilities. Commonly referred to as the ABLE Act, the bill opens this door by amending the tax code to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. And, in so doing, it provides them with the same type of financial planning tool available to other Americans.
The all too familiar story of a piece of legislation’s life cycle began on July 10. With the usual fanfare and traditional press releases, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of members in the House.
The social and behavioral sciences seem to have been painted with a big bull’s-eye, given the escalating number of attacks against National Institutes of Health-supported research grants during the 2014 election season. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., invoked several during his stump speech in support of Republican candidates. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., cited a few more in his latest “Wastebook.” Readers interested in federal support for science might well wonder: Has the NIH, renowned worldwide for high-quality science, lost its collective mind by funding grants of questionable utility, as some Republicans claim? Or have these congressmen merely misunderstood what the social and behavioral sciences have to offer NIH’s health mission?
Nothing better reflects a mashup of neglected issues than the designation of November as national recognition month for Alzheimer’s Awareness, Family Caregivers, Home Care and Long-Term Care. No significant headway has been made on any of these fronts — from sorely underfunded research on this fatal neurodegenerative disease, to caregivers as the “second victim,” to the bankrupting financial health consequences for families and society.
In the impoverished areas of West Africa hit with Ebola, clean water is a luxury. When family and community members come in contact with an infected person, or the deceased, they risk deadly infection simply because they cannot adequately wash their hands.
By choosing Frank Pallone Jr. to be ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee for the 114th Congress, House Democrats tapped a lawmaker with a track record for helping some of the poorest Americans gain access to medical care.