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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Bilirakis Pushes for Greater Accountability during Investigation into Public Health Preparedness for 2017 Hurricane Season

October 24, 2017
Press Release

Contact:  Summer Robertson, 727-232-2921

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Bilirakis was an active participant in today’s Energy & Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing to examine public health preparedness for the 2017 hurricane season.  There were too many preventable tragedies throughout the country, especially those involving the death of seniors in facilities that did not appropriately plan to protect their vulnerable residents.  While less severe, the Tampa Bay area had several local incidents of seniors that went days without power, which could have resulted in dire consequences. Congressman Bilirakis held a roundtable immediately after Hurricane Irma to bring together stakeholders and discuss ways to prevent similar incidents in the future. This hearing builds upon the work he has been doing on this important issue.  Congressman Bilirakis emphasized many of the points that this group raised during his questioning of officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today. 

“Ensuring greater accountability for those who fail to appropriately protect our most vulnerable citizens during emergencies is paramount,” said Congressman Bilirakis.  Plans must be better coordinated at the federal, state and local levels to prevent further tragedies.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to make that happen,” he added.

Click here to view Congressman Bilirakis’s questioning of panelists during the hearing.  

Congressman Bilirakis also sent a letter to the Florida Department of Health this week suggesting that the agency consider using the $12 million in Hospital Preparedness Program federal funding it has received this year to help smaller nursing homes and ALFs in Florida comply with the Governor’s new Executive Order on emergency preparedness.  The Congressman also made this suggestion to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services during today’s hearing.  While larger facilities should be able to comply, those with fewer than 10 residents have expressed concern that ongoing compliance (purchasing of sufficient generator, fuel and maintenance costs) will be extremely difficult.  These federal dollars could be helpful in protecting seniors and the disabled by helping to defray some of those costs.