Bush Signs $4.6 Billion Bioterrorism Bill to Strengthen Nation’s Preparedness
President Bush yesterday signed legislation that will provide $4.6 billion to strengthen the nation's preparedness against a bioterrorist attack, the Los Angeles Times reports (Chen, Los Angeles Times, 6/13). Under the legislation, states and localities will receive $1.6 billion in grants to improve the public health system's ability to respond to a bioterrorist attack (Miller, Washington Post, 6/13). The measure also will increase the nation's stockpile of vaccines and medications. For example, the law expands the availability of potassium iodide tablets, which can help prevent radiation-induced thyroid cancer, to communities near nuclear power plants (Curl/Hudson, Washington Times, 6/13). The measure also will establish stronger controls on laboratories and universities that work with dangerous pathogens and create a national database to track such pathogens. In addition, the legislation will provide $300 million for the CDC to upgrade its equipment and laboratories (California Healthline, 5/24). The law also strengthens protections of the U.S. food and water supply; water systems that serve more than 3,300 people will be required to conduct "vulnerability assessments" and draft emergency response plans; and the FDA will be authorized to block unsafe foods from entering the country (Washington Post, 6/13). "Biological attacks can be carried out quietly. Our health care professionals are likely to be the first to recognize that there has been an attack," Bush said (Los Angeles Times, 6/13). "It is important that we confront these real threats to our country and prepare for future emergencies," he added (Washington Times, 6/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.