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USA Federal funds to states for flu preparedness

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  • USA Federal funds to states for flu preparedness

    Senate expected to back $8M stockpile for bird flu
    <!--subtitle--><!--byline-->By RICK HELLER, Sun Statehouse Bureau
    <!--date-->Article Last Updated:12/02/2006 06:36:09 AM EST
    <script language="JavaScript"> var requestedWidth = 0; </script>
    <script language="JavaScript"> document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').styl e.width = requestedWidth + "px"; if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').styl e.margin = "0px 0px 10px 10px"; } </script>BOSTON -- Long-delayed legislation passed Thursday by the House of Representatives that would pay for a stock of antiviral medicine will get a swift review from the Senate.

    Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for Senate President Robert Travaglini, said the bill would be taken up during an informal legislative session. "I believe the Senate will be able to advance this legislation within the next couple of weeks," she said. "There is a will to get this done, because we are facing the December. 30 deadline to take advantage of federal discounts."

    The bill allocates $8 million for antiviral medicine to be used in an emergency to treat cases of influenza caused by a possible bird flu pandemic. The stockpile would not be used to treat seasonal flu, for which vaccines are available.

    The rest of the funding in the $15 million package would be spent on hospital beds and ventilators, and to fund a study of emergency preparedness.
    Under the bill, which had been held up in the House Ways and Means Committee, the expenditure would be paid for by the commonwealth's rainy day fund.
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    In October, Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed $450 million from the current year's budget that legislators had funded with that rainy day fund, calling it irresponsible to spend the state's reserves. He subsequently closed the budget gap by slashing $425 million from the budget.
    However, Rep. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, said it would be appropriate to use the rainy day fund to prepare for an emergency.
    "It should be a one-time-only endeavor," Finegold said. "This is a very exceptional thing."
    Back in February, Romney originally proposed to spend $36.5 million to prepare for a pandemic.

    Felix Browne, a spokesman for the governor, welcomed the bill's passage by the House.
    "We're pleased to finally see some movement on this bill," Browne said.
    He said the governor would reserve judgment with regard to how the purchases will be funded until he sees a final bill.
    Last edited by Sonny; December 2, 2006, 07:20 PM.