HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius awarded $49 million in grants Monday, partly supported by the Affordable Care Act, to improve the quality of health care and strengthen the public health infrastructure. Awarded to all fifty States, the grants strengthen State, local and territorial health departmentsвЂ™ capacity to perform critical epidemiology and laboratory work, detect and prevent healthcare-associated infections and support immunization programs. This is double the spending for the same programs in 2010.
вЂњInvesting in public health is a key part of the Affordable Care Act. It helps transform our nationвЂ™s health care system from one based on when people get sick to one that prevents disease in the first place,вЂќ said Sebelius.
The grants will fund key State and local public health programs supported through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the grants awarded, $35.8 million in Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars and $3.8 million in additional CDC funding will go to increasing epidemiology, laboratory and health information systems capacity at health departments in all 50 States, two territories and the six largest local jurisdictions (such as the cities of Los Angeles and Philadelphia). This is the second year that the Affordable Care Act has strengthened public health departmentsвЂ™ capacity to fight infectious diseases through enhanced workforce training and improved information technology.
вЂњThis funding will be used to create jobs, enabling the hiring and training of epidemiologists, laboratory scientists and health information specialists in the field of infectious diseases. These are experts who often work behind the scenes in health care to fight disease and keep us healthy,вЂќ said Dr. Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. вЂњThese grants will also make it easier for health departments to better manage and exchange important information.вЂќ
Almost $9 million will be used to bolster StatesвЂ™ abilities to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which lead to nearly 100,000 deaths every year. Funds will help States coordinate their HAI prevention activities, implement multi-facility, multi-disciplinary prevention efforts, improve monitoring of antimicrobial use and enhance electronic reporting of HAIs.
Another $600,000 will be used to bolster StatesвЂ™ immunization infrastructure and programs. These dollars will strengthen the evidence base for immunization programs and policy by supporting important evaluations on the effectiveness of various vaccines.
TodayвЂ™s announcement is another part of the Obama AdministrationвЂ™s broader effort to improve the health and well-being of our communities through initiatives such as the PresidentвЂ™s Childhood Obesity Task Force, the First LadyвЂ™s LetвЂ™s Move! campaign, the National Quality Strategy, and the National Prevention Strategy. Similar to the Obama AdministrationвЂ™s Partnership for Patients which aims to make hospitals safer, more reliable and less costly, todayвЂ™s announcement is also an important step in improving the quality of health care for all Americans.
A full list of grantees is available at: https://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/08/state_cdc_grants.html