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HHS Wants to Shift Bioterror Funds

May 21, 2004
by Ceci Connolly
Washington Post

The Bush administration is finalizing an agreement with U.S. postal workers to help deliver antibiotics or antidotes within 48 hours of a biological attack to 21 major cities, including the District. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson informed key lawmakers yesterday that he intends to take $55 million from state bioterrorism projects to pay for the new program, dubbed the "Cities Readiness Initiative." But several governors, lawmakers and public health leaders immediately protested what Shelley A. Hearne, head of the Trust for America's Health, a nonpartisan public health advocacy group, called a "shell game" with potentially dangerous consequences. "We should not be in a situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul," she said. Tapping letter carriers to deliver emergency supplies is an "innovative idea with great possibilities," she said, but it should not be paid for with money promised to states.

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