HHS grants $498 million for bioterrorism

Grant awards

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The Department of Health and Human Services awarded $498 million in bioterrorism preparedness grants to state and local governments, but state officials are still waiting for word from Congress about whether other bioterrorism funding will be reduced.

The new Health Resources and Services Administration grants, announced May 24, provide at least $2 million to almost every state. That funding is meant for increasing the capability of hospitals and other health care facilities to respond to major outbreaks. Other awards went to four major metropolitan areas -- Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. -- and to several U.S. protectorates.

The funding will also go toward increasing coordination and communication among state and local health departments, as well as health laboratories at all levels of government and the private sector, according to HHS officials.

These awards do not affect the bioterrorism preparedness grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a point of concern for many state governors.

Last week, the National Governors Association's Health and Human Services Committee sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson criticizing the department's proposal to redirect or reprogram funding already appropriated in fiscal 2004 for the CDC grants. Appropriations committees are now reviewing that proposal, and governors are anxiously awaiting the decision in order to continue initiatives started using previous grants, said Nolan Jones, deputy director of the Office of State-Federal Relations at the association.

HHS officials said they plan to announce at least $844 million in CDC grants soon.

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