WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28 — Today, Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, urging her to use the $1.3 billion in unspent funds Congress has already appropriated for pandemic preparedness.
“The threat of a pandemic flu outbreak is something that I, and many in Congress, have been concerned about for years,” Granger said. “It’s something we have been preparing for since the initial draft of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza in 2004. Congress has taken an active role to ensure HHS has the resources it needs to combat any potential pandemic outbreak.”
Back in 2007, Granger urged then-HHS Secretary Leavitt to expeditiously use the resources already made available to the Department to prepare for a potential outbreak. In the letter Granger wrote, she cited there were approximately $2.5 billion unobligated funds, at the time, for the implementation of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.
Granger was particularly concerned about the slow progress in completing key elements of the Department’s preparedness plans. One of the most notable of those elements was the planned stockpiling of antivirals, which is our nation’s first line of defense at the outset of any pandemic influenza outbreak inside the United States. Still concerned about the failure to use the funds allotted, Granger sent another letter today to HHS Secretary Sebelius.
“Today, I urged the Department of Health and Human Services to use the $1.3 billion in unspent funds currently set aside for pandemic preparedness,” Granger said. “We have shipped 11 million courses of antivirals to the States this week to deal with the current outbreak. We need to ensure that our stockpile remains complete to maintain our reserves for 25 percent of the population.”
“However, it is important to note that because of the initial work done by the federal government, we are far more prepared to handle a major incident,” Granger said. “I am proud to have been a part of that preparation and planning, but more must be done."