Swine Flu Slops Onto Health Reform
August 7, 2009
by Will Englund
President Obama had hoped to have a health care reform bill passed by both
chambers of Congress before next week's trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, where one
of the topics is going to be the other big medical issue facing the country:
swine flu. But now Congress has pushed health care reform back to the fall,
when, as many expect, the flu is likely to stage a resurgence -- and if that
happens, the two are bound to get mixed up together in the political struggle
over U.S. medicine.
An uninsured person who hesitates about seeking help for the flu is in a goodposition to infect a lot more people, notes Rich Hamburg of the advocacy groupTrust for America's Health. Just as important as expanded insurance, though, hebelieves, is the extra money for public health infrastructure in the reformbills now in Congress. A public health investment fund of $10 billion to $12billion a year would improve pandemic planning, pay for stockpiling vaccines(which increases manufacturing capacity), create more surveillance resources,and enhance "surge capacity." Significantly, reform would replace emergencyappropriations with a reliable stream of funding. "You could actually hirepeople," he says.
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