The American Hospital Association (AHA) announced it shared with President Biden the association’s initial recommendations for infrastructure investments that should be included in an upcoming legislative package to ensure hospitals and health systems are fully equipped to care for their communities now and into the future, as well as respond to any future public health emergency.
“Now, more than ever, federal investment is needed to ensure hospitals are able to meet the health care needs of patients and continue to be a source of jobs and economic stability in their communities, and often their largest employer,” AHA wrote. “As your Administration works with Congress to develop policies aimed at rebuilding our nation’s critical infrastructure, as reflected in today’s announcement, we urge you to prioritize support for health care and its vital role in addressing critical challenges including health equity, emergency preparedness, access to care and more.”
AHA’s initial recommendations included investing in hospital and health system physical infrastructure; building capacity for emergency preparedness and response capacity; expanding healthcare digital and data infrastructure; strengthening the healthcare workforce; securing the supply chain; and supporting behavioral health access.
President Biden unveiled a roughly $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan to address some of the nation’s infrastructure challenges, including damaged bridges, unequal broadband access, and care for people with disabilities and the elderly. The American Jobs Plan is expected to be followed by a second economic package in April.
Among other policies, the proposal included investments in preparedness for future pandemics, including shoring up the National Strategic Stockpile and accelerating research, development and testing of therapeutics and vaccines; $18 billion for the modernization of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics; affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American, including the more than 35% of rural Americans who lack access to broadband at minimally acceptable speeds; $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities.
In a Proclamation on National Public Health Week, 2021, released in a White House April 5, 2021 brief, President Biden addressed that "the United States must prioritize and continually invest in our public health system to aggressively address health disparities that have been exposed and worsened by COVID-19. We must also address the environmental and climate factors — air and water pollution, extreme weather, and climate-related disaster events — that threaten public health in communities nationwide. The American Jobs Plan will help to achieve these goals, including by ensuring that children who live along highways and fence lines of industrial facilities will breathe easier because of significant investments in clean energy and infrastructure that promotes public health. Our Nation must also take commonsense steps to address the gun violence public health epidemic, including actions to counter the historic spike in homicides occurring in cities across the country and disproportionately affecting Black and brown Americans. Only by addressing the root causes of health inequity can we build a fairer, stronger, more dependable health system for all Americans."
The brief continued that "the American Rescue Plan provides critical funding to increase the number of vaccination sites, which will help us get Americans vaccinated more quickly so that we can get back to our lives and loved ones. The law also invests in COVID-19 containment measures such as testing and contact tracing, funds our efforts to strengthen domestic supply chains for critical medical equipment, and makes health insurance more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans. Finally, the law invests in crucial measures like air quality monitoring, water and sewer infrastructure, and brownfield remediation so that Americans in every community can live in a healthy environment."
The brief concluded that "the American Rescue Plan will also mobilize a generation of future leaders to serve in an enhanced public health workforce, increasing our long-term public health capacity. This law also provides much-needed help to nearly 1,400 Community Health Centers that serve our most vulnerable populations, who are at the highest risk of infection and adverse outcomes from COVID-19."