Last year, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) developed its legislative priorities for the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which expires September 30, 2018. Those priorities have been a key advocacy effort for the ACS in 2018 as Congress continues to draft the legislation. The reauthorization process involves hearings and legislative action within the congressional committees of jurisdiction—the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee—before action by the full House of Representatives and the Senate.
Purpose of PAHPA
PAHPA was created to improve the nation’s response to public health and medical emergencies. It also established the office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR), which oversees the nation’s preparedness for disaster response. ASPR’s responsibilities include the implementation of the recommendations from the June 2016 National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report, A National Trauma Care System: Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths After Injury.
Trauma systems are organized across the nation to manage, on a daily basis, acutely injured patients in an efficient, time-sensitive manner. A trauma system spans the continuum of care from the point of injury, through rehabilitation. As a result, these systems are responsible for not only day-to-day emergency and trauma care, but for public health emergencies that cause regions to experience a surge in capacity. Since trauma centers and systems serve as critical infrastructure for disaster response, having a nationwide trauma system would ensure patients receive the best trauma care regardless of the emergency and the location.
To assist with the development of a national framework for trauma care and to address some of the shortfalls in the existing trauma system, the ACS requested that Congress consider the inclusion of trauma-related priorities in the PAHPA reauthorization that will improve our trauma care system and ensure all Americans have timely access to high-quality trauma care. The ACS has been actively working with the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee to convey our legislative requests. At the recent 2018 ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit, these requests, which follow, were reinforced by the nearly 300 surgeon advocates who attended meetings with their members of Congress and their staffs:
- Inclusion of the Mission Zero Act (H.R. 880/S. 1022): Builds on the legislative framework passed in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by further incorporating military trauma care providers into the civilian setting. These military-civilian trauma care partnerships will increase military health care readiness and provide high-quality trauma care both domestically and abroad.
- Authorization of trauma care programs to ensure preparedness: These programs will help to establish a national trauma system capable of providing the best trauma care to anyone injured in the U.S. within one hour of injury. Creation of a unified framework for trauma care will ensure the best chance of survival, regardless of where a patient is injured.
- Inclusion of the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act (H.R. 1876/S. 781): Removes barriers and eases liability concerns that often prevent health care professionals from volunteering their services during a federally declared disaster.
As of mid-May, the Senate HELP Committee marked up their version of PAHPA, which included the Mission Zero Act. The HELP Committee has expressed interest in working with stakeholders regarding the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act and the reauthorization of trauma system and center grant programs, which were not included in the legislation. The ACS will be actively involved in these discussions and looks forward to working with Congress, as these priorities are likely to advance outside of the PAHPA reauthorization process. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee is slated to have a hearing on PAHPA the week of June 4, and a draft of that legislation is forthcoming.
For more information on PAHPA reauthorization or trauma advocacy contact Justin Rosen, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-672-1528.