AAMC report urges federal coordination in COVID-19 response

Sept. 16, 2021

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) is calling for coordinated federal leadership to improve the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic amid the latest resurgence that has resulted in tens of thousands of hospitalizations and deaths of mostly unvaccinated people.

This is one of several recommendations to help combat the current pandemic and prepare for future health crises outlined in the AAMC’s The Way Forward Starts Now: Lessons from COVID-19. The new report addresses the systemic inadequacies in the nation’s response to COVID-19 and provides specific guidance to best prepare for future public health threats.

“The Biden administration’s recent COVID plans are steps in the right direction, but more work is needed to build resilience against the next pandemic,” said Atul Grover, MD, PhD, Executive Director of the AAMC Research and Action Institute.

The report contains three themes and 10 recommendations that are intended to provide clear direction for policymakers, so the nation can more effectively address our current challenges and prepare for future threats over the next five years.

The report identified three themes that the authors say must be at the center of improving the nation’s overall pandemic preparedness:

           The White House should coordinate multiple cabinet-level departments and agencies is via transparent authority. This can be accomplished through an individual office (as the administration established during the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak) or the use of a coordinating team, but only if its leadership has the president’s authority to fully direct and coordinate all necessary departments and agencies.

           The nation must define which Strategic National Stockpile equipment and supplies are critical to testing, care, and research for a clear and specific time period and have a way to track these assets in real time.

           Policymakers must provide secure, predictable, consistent funding of public health agencies and the health workforce at the federal, state, and local levels.

 Among the report’s 10 recommendations are calls for:

           The White House to lead the national pandemic response and coordinate policies, procedures, infrastructure, core materials, and supply chains at the federal level and not rely on a piecemeal approach that varies by locality and region.

           Federal commitment to advance purchases of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, and to engage industry and research universities at the outset of the next public health emergency.

           Federal and state government relaxation of regulatory restrictions on clinical care — regulatory, licensing, and billing requirements — during a national emergency.

           Federal expansion and improvement of health insurance, including making it available regardless of employment status. 

           Federal and state action to increase the supply and well-being of physicians and other health professionals.

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