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Obamacare prescription: 'Emergency health army'
Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 03/25/2010 @ 11:40 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
President Obama’s recently passed health-care reform legislation includes a surprise for many Americans – a beefing up of a U.S. Public Health Service reserve force and expectations that it respond on short notice to “routine public health and emergency response missions,” even involuntarily.
According to Section 5210 of HR 3590, titled “Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps,” the force must be ready for “involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises.”
The health-care legislation adds millions of dollars for recruitment and amends Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 204), passed July 1, 1944, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services in the U.S. However, Obama’s changes more than double the wording of the Section 203 and dub individuals who are currently classified as officers in the Reserve Corps commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.
The following is the previous wording of the act as of 2004, before Democrats passed the health-care legislation:
Wording of Section 203 of Public Health Service Act before Obamacare amendment
The U.S. Public Health Service website describes its commissioned corps as “an elite team of more than 6,000 full-time, well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science.”
According to its mission page, officers of the commissioned corps may:
Members are trained to respond to public health situations and national emergency events, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks.
As stated in the health-care legislation, “The purpose of the Ready Reserve Corps is to fulfill the need to have additional Commissioned Corps personnel available on short notice (similar to the uniformed service’s reserve program) to assist regular Commissioned Corps personnel to meet both routine public health and emergency response missions.”
The Democrats’ legislation recently added the following text to Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act:
‘(b) Assimilating Reserve Corp Officers Into the Regular Corps- Effective on the date of enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all individuals classified as officers in the Reserve Corps under this section (as such section existed on the day before the date of enactment of such Act) and serving on active duty shall be deemed to be commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.
‘(c) Purpose and Use of Ready Research-
‘(2) USES- The Ready Reserve Corps shall–
‘(A) participate in routine training to meet the general and specific needs of the Commissioned Corps;
‘(B) be available and ready for involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises, similar to the uniformed service reserve personnel;
‘(C) be available for backfilling critical positions left vacant during deployment of active duty Commissioned Corps members, as well as for deployment to respond to public health emergencies, both foreign and domestic; and
‘(D) be available for service assignment in isolated, hardship, and medically underserved communities (as defined in section 799B) to improve access to health services.
‘(d) Funding- For the purpose of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Commissioned Corps under this section, there are authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for recruitment and training and $12,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for the Ready Reserve Corps.’
Commissioned officers of the ready reserve corps are appointed by the president, and commissioned officers of the regular corps are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Robert Book, a senior research fellow in health economics at the Heritage Foundation, said the service has been around some time but is not well known.
In the past, its responsibilities have included work related to the National Institutes of Health, the Indian health service and providing physicians for Coast Guard operations, he said.
As first reported by WND during his campaign, Obama called for a “civilian national security force” July 2, 2008, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” he said. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
WND also reported in January when a Rand Corporation report proposed the federal government create a rapid deployment “Stabilization Police Force” that would be tasked with “shaping an environment before a conflict” and restoring order in times of war, natural disaster or national emergency.
The blogosphere is buzzing with speculation about the amendment. Some comments include:
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