You know that health policy is slow when Andy Slavitt’s podcast In The Bubble — where he invites health care leaders to talk with him every couple of days for 40 minutes or longer — features Matthew McConaughey talking about, well, nothing. At least, nothing to do with health policy. Even a recent GAO podcast talked about nothing; that is, the GAO is calling out HHS for doing almost nothing to develop a public health information exchange network. Interestingly, this is exactly what Matthew McConaughey’s fellow Texan, President George W. Bush, addressed in 2005, when he (along with Congress) required HHS (in 2006) to establish a nationwide public health network to share information about the detection of and response to public health emergencies. And yet, in 2022, the GAO felt compelled to write a 73-page report explaining how HHS, for 15+ years, has failed to establish the required-by-law nationwide public health network. Instead, amid a world-wide devastating pandemic, this happened: hospitals were told to stop reporting pandemic-related information to the CDC and report directly to HHS via a contract with Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies, a contract which is now ending, right when the CDC is restructuring because it struggled to respond to the pandemic — a restructuring that was announced one month after HHS said that ASPR (HHS’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response) would be taking over as the agency’s lead (not the CDC) on pandemic responses. Maybe after the slow month of August, HHS will get back up to speed on the 2006-ordered public health network. Maybe Matthew McConaughey can talk about how the network finally got the “Greenlight” — in the next book he writes during a pandemic.
August 26, 2022 | 3 min read
August 26, 2022
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