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Broad health preparedness bill advances in Senate

first_imgJul 19, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – A US Senate committee today approved a bill packed with a wide variety of provisions designed to improve the nation’s ability to handle public health emergencies, including pandemic influenza.The bipartisan “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act” was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, according to Laura Caudell, a spokeswoman for Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the bill’s author.”We passed it unanimously this morning out of committee, and now it’ll be put on the legislative calendar in the Senate,” Caudell told CIDRAP News.Among other things, the bill names the secretary of health and human services as the government’s leader for health emergencies, requires states to meet preparedness standards and to share some of the cost of preparedness, seeks to coordinate and strengthen the nation’s system of medical volunteers, and calls for tracking of influenza vaccine supplies so that doses reach high-risk groups.The measure reauthorizes the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which was passed following the terrorist attacks of 2001. That law is set to expire at the end of September, according to a Jul 18 news release from Burr’s office.Burr, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, said discussions with New Orleans health officials last week about Hurricane Katrina underscored for him the need for the legislation.”Everyone I met agreed we must ensure our hospitals and health care facilities are better prepared to respond to a disaster,” he said in the news release. “This legislation is a first step toward making sure our federal, state, and local governments and public and private health care systems have more tools to better manage an emergency be it a hurricane, a terrorist attack, or a pandemic.”The bill, introduced yesterday, is cosponsored by Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Caudell said the sponsors consulted with the Bush administration in developing the legislation and that it has the administration’s support.Enzi, chair of the Senate committee that approved the bill today, said in a news release that the measure “would integrate local, state, and federal public health infrastructures and create a clear chain of command.”Burr’s office cited five major objectives of the bill:To “put someone in charge” by designating the HHS secretary as the lead official for responding to public health emergencies. Caudell said current law doesn’t specifically assign that job to anyone.To “speed up coordinated responses to medical emergencies” by improving training, logistics, and planning for healthcare providers and by promoting the use of “mobile medical assets and alternative federal facilities” for accommodating surges of patients.To establish standards of preparedness for states. “The legislation requires individual states to meet performance standards developed by the Secretary of HHS to ensure all states have a basic level of preparedness for disasters,” the release states.To fund public health and medical preparedness. The bill authorizes $824 million for state and local preparedness and $474 million for hospital preparedness for fiscal year 2007, plus “such sums as may be necessary” for 2008 through 2011.To create a system to promote, organize, train, and support healthcare volunteers for emergency response work.Regarding funding, the legislation requires states to match federal preparedness grants at the 5% level starting in 2009. The states’ share would increase to 10% and then 20% in the two following years.To improve state accountability, the bill calls on HHS within 6 months to develop “measurable evidence-based benchmarks and objective standards that measure levels of preparedness.” In addition, HHS is directed to provide the states with criteria for an effective plan for responding to pandemic influenza.States that fail to meet standards or submit a pandemic response plan would lose 10% of their annual grant the first year. With continuing failures, the penalty would rise to 15%, 20%, and 25% in the second, third, and fourth years.Concerning flu vaccine supplies, the legislation directs HHS “to track and facilitate the distribution” of vaccines so that supplies can go to high-priority groups. It does not suggest how this should be done. The information gathered by HHS for this purpose must remain confidential.The legislation also calls for some changes in lines of responsibility for emergency response. In particular, it transfers the National Disaster Medical System from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) back to HHS, where it was before the DHS was established in 2002.In addition, the bill moves the management of the Strategic National Stockpile of drugs and medical supplies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the office of the HHS assistant secretary for public health emergency preparedness, according to Caudell. The name of the latter position would change to “assistant secretary for preparedness and response” under the bill.Concerning medical volunteers, the legislation “codifies” the existing system of local Medical Reserve Corps teams and puts them under a director appointed by the HHS secretary. The bill sets standards for the composition of the corps and the training and certification of its members.Also under the bill, HHS would tie existing state volunteer verification systems into a nationwide network of systems that could quickly verify volunteers’ credentials in an emergency.Sen. Enzi’s news release cited two other provisions of the bill as important:A clause promoting “public health situational awareness with a nationwide, near real-time network, built on existing surveillance systems, to detect and contain public health threats”A provision for grants to people who agree to serve in a state or local public health department in an underserved area.See also: Jul 19 news release from Sen. Richard BurrJul 18 news release from Sen. BurrNovember 2002 CIDRAP News article on establishment of the DHShttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/bioprep/news/homelnd.htmlCDC information on the Strategic National Stockpilehttps://www.cdc.gov/phpr/stockpile/index.htmlast_img read more

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Byron Scott says Lakers defense was ‘atrocious’ against Minnesota

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — Lakers coach Byron Scott sat for a spell with general manager Mitch Kupchak following practice Saturday. Some 14 hours earlier, the Lakers stunk up Staples Center defensively on their way to a 120-119 loss at the hands of the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, who, even with those 120 points are still averaging only 101.4 this season.A reporter asked Scott if Kupchak had to talk him off the proverbial ledge.“Nah, nobody will ever have to talk me off the ledge,” Scott said. “If you ever hear of me committing suicide, you know I got murdered, OK, because I’m not going to kill myself, believe me. … I might kill them, but I’m not going to kill myself.”Scott was laughing by that time, as were reporters. But that doesn’t mean Scott is any unhappier with “them” – meaning his players – than he was late Friday night. The Timberwolves shot 57 percent from the field, 55.6 percent (10 of 18) from 3-point range. This from a team that entered 3-10, 1-5 on the road. Scott said part of the problem is that his team speeds things up at times when it should be doing the opposite. Not just offensively, but defensively as well. The Lakers are allowing a league-high 111.4 points.“We’ve gotta slow down sometimes and say, ‘Hey, let’s just stick to our principles,’ instead of going haywire,” he said. “We do it on both ends sometimes, which is something we’ve gotta solve.”Hill chimes inThe faces were long Saturday. Post Jordan Hill wore one of them. He had just eight points, three rebounds and no blocks Friday; as a team, the Lakers had just one blocked shot. Hill believes his team – though itself just 3-13 – overlooked Minnesota.‘Man, I feel we took them light,’ he said. “We thought it was an easy win, but they came out and just kept fighting, took it to us.”The antidote?“As soon as we step on the floor, we’ve just gotta give it our all and just lay it all on the floor no matter how your team is or what the team record is,” Hill said.Raptors’ DeRozan outIt was learned Saturday that Toronto shooting guard DeMar DeRozan will be out indefinitely with a torn left adductor longus tendon, which is in the thigh. It was sustained in the Raptors’ loss to Dallas on Friday.DeRozan, out of Compton High and USC, is Toronto’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game. Scott was bummed out to learn of this.“I feel sorry for the young man because he’s a hell of a basketball player,” Scott said. “I know he’s an L.A. kid as well.”Scott said DeRozan’s absence won’t change how he prepares for the Raptors, the Eastern Conference leaders.“Not really,” he said. “They’re still very athletic, they’re young and they get after you pretty good. (Small forward) Terrance Ross is a good player, so it will probably put a little bit more on his plate. And the same thing with (point guard) Kyle Lowry and those guys.”Lowry is averaging 18.6 points and 6.4 assists. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img That’s not to mention that Minnesota had a whopping 37 assists. Mo Williams had 11, Gorqui Dieng and Corey Brewer eight apiece.“I can’t say anything different than what I said last night, guys,” said Scott, whose team Sunday will host the Toronto Raptors (13-3) at 6:30 p.m. at Staples Center. “Like I said, lack of focus.“I watched it last night, I watched it this morning and our lack of focus and the mistakes we made mentally, it was atrocious. I addressed that with them this morning and told them how I felt and I’ll leave it at that.” Scott admitted that once he reviewed the tape, it was even more repulsive.“I think it looks worse,” he said. “I mean, seriously, you sit there in person and watch it and you know it’s pretty bad. When you go home and watch it again and, you know, I found myself shaking my head a lot of times when I was having my nice little drink of stuff. And then again, I said, “Let me watch it again in the morning,’ It didn’t look much better this morning, either.” last_img read more