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Capitol Health Call
June 11, 2008

Surge Capacity

JAMA. 2008;299(22):2620. doi:10.1001/jama.299.22.2620-b

Cutbacks in federal money to public and teaching hospitals threaten the ability of the nation's emergency departments to respond to surges of casualties from terrorist attacks or natural disasters, said Rep Henry A. Waxman (D, Calif), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

During a 2-day hearing in early May, committee members heard testimony about the problem, resulting from 3 Medicaid regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that will reduce federal funds to public and teaching hospitals by billions of dollars over the next 5 years. “Why would the Department of Health and Human Services, knowing that the nation's emergency care system is already stretched to the breaking point, withdraw billions of federal dollars from the hospitals that provide the most comprehensive emergency care to the most seriously injured?” asked Waxman.