Sunday, April 5, 2009

Legislation Moves to the Senate

The Wakefield Act (H.R. 479) passed by the House and now in the Senate would provide continued improvement in emergency medical services for children. There are 31,000,000 child and adolescent visits to emergency departments every year. Today, significant gaps remain in the emergency medical care delivered to children since only 6 percent of hospitals have the correct pediatric supplies deemed essential by pediatric associations for properly managing pediatric emergencies.

The Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program under the Public Health Service Act is the only Federal program that focuses specifically on improving the pediatric components of emergency medical care. The EMSC program promotes the nationwide exchange of pediatric emergency medical care knowledge and collaboration by ensuring that the exchange of knowledge and collaboration takes place.

The Wakefield Act amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary of HHS to provide grants to states and medical schools to help reduce child morbidity and mortality by improving services.

The legislation would extend the length of time by one year where a grant may be awarded under the EMSC grant program. The grants go to states or schools of medicine that support projects to expand and improve emergency medical services for children who need treatment for trauma or critical care.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the legislation would authorize $25 million for 2010 and $138 million over the 2010 to 2014 period. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 479 would cost $4 million in 2010 and $96 million over the 2010 to 2014 period.