Journalism in the Public Interest

House Calls for Drastic Cuts in Hospital Preparedness Funding

The House of Representatives passed a budget measure that would cut the federal Hospital Preparedness Program by $185 million, a 44 percent reduction from last year’s budget.

On Thursday, we reported that the U.S. health system is unprepared to respond to a major nuclear emergency as a result of inadequate capacity to treat a large number of radiation injuries, aging stockpiles of a key medication, and limited emergency preparedness drills for hospitals. Hours after our story ran, the House of Representatives passed a budget measure that would cut the federal Hospital Preparedness Program by $185 million, a 44 percent reduction from last year’s budget.

“This is the only federal funding that is intended to provide assistance for hospital preparedness and response,” said Roslyne Schulman, the director for policy development at the American Hospital Association. “A cut of this magnitude is totally out of the blue. It would decimate the program.”

The proposal is unlikely to be enacted. The cuts are contained in the House’s one-week budget proposal that would cut $12 billion in spending and avert an immediate shutdown of government. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has dismissed it as a “non-starter” and a “fantasy.”

Schulman said that the proposal still puts the Hospital Preparedness Program at risk by making it a potential target in negotiations on future budget cuts. Schulman said that if the cuts were passed, hospitals would have to cut back their surge capacity, disaster drills, and funds for stockpiling medications – precisely the programs we noted in our story are currently inadequate to respond to a significant nuclear emergency.

We have contacted the House Appropriations Committee, which originated yesterday’s budget measure, but have not yet received a response.

The irresponsibility and incredible recklessness of the Republicans is remarkable. This is pure pandering to an agenda which is ill conceived and indefensible and has almost nothing to do with jobs, the deficit or the American economy. How long will the country continue to tolerate this behavior? Maybe until they realize that the pain is about to be their own.


April 8, 2011, 3:20 p.m.

“House Calls for Drastic Cuts in Hospital Preparedness Funding”

With the exception of hospitals in an area were a member of congress and their families reside.

Marcel M. Weiner

April 8, 2011, 3:31 p.m.

Permitting Congress to play Russian roulette with our emergency preparedness in case of a national disaster is in and of itself a diaster.

The only solution to this dilemma (i.e. needing adequate funds for emergency preparedness and the need for cost-cutting), is to rigorously monitor how efficiently the funds are utilized. The system must be reviewed and adjusted as needed in the most efficient manner possible. All participants must be agile enough to be able to adapt as needed.

...And we see another cut that would not touch these legislators in any way.  In an emergency they would be rushed to a secure hospital and given VIP treatment with their federal, tax payer provided healthcare footing any and all bills.  The rest of us?  Really not that important.  Almost every republican cut is a reminder that the general public is just an annoyance.

Timothy McKeever

April 9, 2011, 5:17 p.m.

The new Republican party ( that sprouted in 1980) continues to present itself as the moral and responsible party of this country. Yet they nearly always espouse ideas and solutions that are immoral and unethical. They have succeeded in taking on the aura of petty third-world despots, who care for nothing except enriching themselves at the expense of, and on the back of the people who actually have to deal with real life scenarios. I will NEVER back any Republican candidate or agenda. They are at the root of every single large issue this country faces. They DO NOT speak for the American people. How dare they write their phony tomes about American values and ideals. They are the modern variant of the classic “carpetbaggers”.

Your report may have just brought to their attention this specific budget item and the fact that they had neglected to put it on their other lists of cuts!  They are shameful but refuse to be shamed!

Just another Republican ridiculous budget cut!  They are going to keep cutting and cutting on important things that we need rather than taking such things as this and Medicare, etc. and going over how to make it more streamlined and free of fraud.  If they would do this with many of the programs they want to cut, they’d find that they’d save money in the long run….but, then again, that would be too easy and entirely NOT what the Tea Party thugs want!  It’s sad to see that our government is being run by a very SMALL minority of rabid conservatives, some of which have NO idea what they are doing and are only listening to the likes of the Koch Brothers and other big business pundits who would LOVE to see all regulations, etc. taken away so they can do their damage to the environment and to everything else!  This is what we want to leave our children???

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Nuclear Safety

Nuclear Safety

With the disaster in Japan, we're investigating questions about nuclear safety.

The Story So Far

Following a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, hydrogen explosions rocked three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Radioactive spent fuel stored in pools was also affected, especially at one reactor—the plant has a total of six—where multiple fires erupted. Evacuation orders were issued, potassium iodine tablets distributed, and plant employees used seawater and external electrical power to cool the stricken reactors, three of which had a partial core meltdown.

More »

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories