Hospital Preparations for Pandemic Flu To Cost $5B
The initial cost of preparing for pandemic flu likely will be about $5 billion for the nation's 5,000 general acute care hospitals, according to an estimate from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Biosecurity, Nancy Donegan, a spokesperson for the American Hospital Association, said Thursday in written testimony to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, CQ HealthBeat reports. Donegan said the estimate from the Center for Biosecurity assumes initial spending of at least $1 million for an average-sized, 164-bed hospital.
The estimate includes $200,000 to develop a specific pandemic plan; $160,000 for staff education and training; $400,000 to stockpile minimal personal protective equipment; and $240,000 to stockpile "basic supplies." She also said that after initial spending, it would cost $200,000 annually per hospital to keep the facilities prepared.
The $5 billion estimate does not include the cost of purchasing mechanical ventilators or the cost of stockpiling antiviral drugs, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Donegan also said that current hospital capacity and staffing levels also would be inadequate and that HHS' plan to address the issues is inefficient.
J. Steven Cline, a public health official in North Carolina, said public health needs "a sustained and predictable stream of funding for an effective response," noting that a recent allocation of $100 million for public health departments "is far less than adequate to protect our citizens."
The Bush administration pandemic flu preparation plan calls for spending $7 billion -- likely over a two- to three-year period -- but none of the funding is allocated directly to hospitals, according to CQ HealthBeat (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/25).