Public health emergencies can create a massive strain on state, tribal, and local health department resources, and often emergency response personnel are in short supply. Under section 201 of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA), health departments will be able to temporarily reassign federally funded personnel stationed in their departments to respond to a public health emergency. The assistant secretary for preparedness and response released proposed guidance for the voluntary temporary reassignment of state and local personnel during a public health emergency and is accepting comments until December 17, 2013.
How will the voluntary temporary reassignment work?
Section 201 of PAHPRA requires the following before federally funded health department personnel are temporarily reassigned for emergency response purposes:
If the secretary grants the request for temporary reassignment, all potentially affected personnel must have the opportunity to volunteer for reassignment and may not be forced to agree to a temporary reassignment.
When does the temporary reassignment end?
The voluntary temporary reassignment ends when the secretary determines that a public health emergency no longer exists, or thirty days after the request was approved, whichever occurs first. However, the governor or tribal leader may request an extension.
Proposed guidance has been released and comments will be received until December 17, 2013.
For more information, to view the guidance, and to submit comments, visit Guidance for Temporary Reassignment of State and Local Personnel during a Public Health Emergency.
This guest blog post was prepared by Gregory Sunshine, J.D., an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education legal fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Law Program. PHLP provides technical assistance and public health law resources to advance the use of law as a public health tool. PHLP cannot provide legal advice on any issue and cannot represent any individual or entity in any matter. PHLP recommends seeking the advice of an attorney or other qualified professional with questions regarding the application of law to a specific circumstance.
The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state. The views expressed in this post do not represent those of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
View this resource for more information about PAHPRA.