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HHS Wants to Shift Bioterror Funds

$55 Million Would Be Taken From State Projects to Help Prepare 21 Cities. 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.” In addition to paying for the training of letter carriers, the money would be spent installing sophisticated disease surveillance equipment, purchasing vaccines and building new quarantine stations at U.S. airports, according to documents prepared by Thompson’s staff. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, praised the move, saying that in a time of tight federal budgets it makes sense to shift money to “high-risk cities” most likely to be targeted by terrorists. Full Story

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