Public Health Emergency Response Act: health care for all in a crisis

In the midst of a major public health emergency, should the uninsured receive care… even if they are not able to pay? Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) think so.

They have introduced legislation to provide emergency treatment for victims affected by a major public health disaster, regardless of their health insurance status or ability to pay. The Public Health Emergency Response Act (PHERA), is intended to guarantee that every American will be able to receive the medical treatment they need following public health emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or contagious diseases like the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak.

The bill allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to call for a temporary 90-day emergency health benefit for the uninsured, in the hope of saving lives and protecting the general public from communicable diseases. Funding will come from the already existing Public Health Emergency Fund.

The benefits of such legislation are many. In the event of a contagious outbreak, delaying or forgoing medical care would not only cause great loss of life, but would most certainly escalate the spread of disease to a wider population. 

When it comes to health care reform, we are once again reminded that as much as we value individuality, we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. What happens to our neighbor has a great impact on what happens to us. With the numbers of uninsured climbing, it’s more important than ever to have a plan in place to meet the needs of the general public during a health crisis. Leaving some people out places us all in greater jeopardy.

For all our sakes, we can’t afford to get this one wrong. 

Read and track this legislation:

Senator Bill: S.957

House Bill: H.R. 2231


Care For A.
Past Member 8 years ago

One in three Americans — approximately 87 million people -- went without health insurance for some period during 2007 and 2008.

A number of health insurance companies don’t cover the only known treatments for H1N1 (swine) flu, and these treatments may be denied outright by your insurance carrier---yet another example of health insurance companies placing profits before patients’ health and lives.

Some companies force physicians and patients to go through a lengthy and expensive pre-authorization process to approve the treatments. But swine flu treatments must be started within 48 hours to be effective; you likely won’t hear back from your insurance company for days, and they may still say no. Denial of care saves them money.

In addition, the disconnected medical records systems of the 1500 separate American private health insurance companies prevents timely epidemiological diagnosis and targeting of pandemics, thereby delaying the response of doctors and public health officials.

WITH SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH INSURANCE FOR ALL, integrated with a single electronic medical records system, diseases or bio-terrorism could be instantly identified and treated with effective drugs available to all.

This possible H1N1 flu (swine flu) pandemic demonstrates yet another dangerous deficiency of private insurance companies which serve no real purpose in the health and well being of Americans.

Maryanne L.
Maryanne L8 years ago

national healthcare system, please.

Emagin Peace
Dawn LaBorde8 years ago

Greatest healthcare insurance you can have is to stop eating processed packaged "food" and commerically grown meats and fish.
Eat as nature intended.
This is major factor of healthcare crisis.
You are what you eat.

Care For A.
Past Member 8 years ago

If we can cover everyone for 90 days, why can't we cover everyone ALL of the time.

Shannon S.
Shannon G8 years ago

Goverment needs to step up and regulate the insurance industry. Insurers set the price for treatment and will cut a check to a provider for up to 70% less then what an uninsured person will pay for the same procedure. The same is true for medication,you pay you co-pay regarless if the cost of the medication is less then the agreed upon amount. Insurers will not cover treatment that fix a problem OR even prevent a problem-but they will allow treatment for years that will mask the pain and symtoms and cause additional illness. My theory is that if the goverment would regulate this industry we may find that things may be a bit more affordable. I for one, do not want the goverment to be in charge making decisions about my healthcare and what I think is right for my body-do you?

Janet Randolph
Janet Randolph8 years ago

We need health insurance that people can afford. I was in an auto accident and lost my job and insurance. I am still under doctors care and have no insurance. I have been looking for health insurance that I can use to go to pain management but the only coverage I have found is ones that allow me only 5-10 visits and pain management is a monthly visit. The cost for this coverage their enrollment fee is unreal. I don't know anyone that is unemployed and under doctors care that can afford $245 per month plus their medications. One of the medications that I am on cost $400 per month and they will on pay approx. 40% of it and then on the rest you pay a co-pay of $10 - $ 50 on the others.
Can someone tell me how people are suppose to survive.
This does not people like me. We need some help.

cecily w.
cecily w8 years ago

We need a National Health Care System that covers ALL citizens and legal residents ALL the time.