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ACA rewards states with more funding to help block, bout infectious diseases


Three years of funding for epidemiology, laboratory and health information systems was officially marked this past week when Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced awards totaling $48.8 million to bolster such aims across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, the District of Columbia, New York City, Los Angeles County, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston.

“Today’s awards support the critical work of public health departments to prevent, track and respond to new and emerging infectious diseases,” Sebelius said in a news release.

Espousal of initiatives such as the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity program provides state, local and territorial health departments with the means to improve disease reporting and response through the hiring and training of specialized staff, investments in information technology and the purchasing of laboratory equipment necessary for diagnosing emerging pathogens, according to HHS.

Accolades for the lofty lump sum were primarily attributed to the extensively titled Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreements. 

The funding, handed down on Aug. 16, included $45.4 million in Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund resources — further channeled as such: $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. 

HHS further delineated the allocation:

  • Forty-nine states, the District and Puerto Rico will receive funding to carry out strategies to protect patients from health care-associated infections, and 16 of those will receive funding to prevent health care-associated infections across the spectrum of health care 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. 

Find more information about the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreements here.

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