Trauma care legislation becomes law
This law sends scarce health care dollars to the places that need it most Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), who sponsored the bill, said. Were going to make sure trauma systems are strengthened, communicating and coordinated.
Green said that trauma and emergency medical care are vital to response efforts in the face of natural disasters, terrorist threats and chemical spills in addition to the everyday accidents that clog hospitals around the country.
The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Houston area, which Green represents, is home to the Ben Taub and Memorial Hermann Level 1 Trauma Centers, which are increasingly forced to turn away seriously injured people due to emergency room overcrowding. According to the Institute of Medicine, 20,000 to 25,000 trauma deaths each year could be prevented by quicker access to trauma care.
The bill is a reauthorization of the Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act, which first became law in 1990. In addition to extending authorization through 2012, Greens bill reauthorizes the Residency Training Program in Emergency Medicine, which provides for a greater number of emergency room doctors.
The Trauma Care Act works by providing federal grants to the states, localities and schools of medicine which then plan, develop and implement trauma care systems. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science (IOM) urged the reauthorization, citing an increase in the number of trauma systems around the country after initial implementation of the Act.
According to data from a 1999 IOM study, preventable trauma fatalities in San Diego County, California fell from 13.6 per cent to 2.7 per cent after establishment of a regional trauma system.
The new version of the Act also creates a separate competitive grant program for states that have already begun the process of establishing a trauma care system using national standards and protocols. It decreases the states required contribution to the program in order to encourage sustainability and requires a self-evaluation program to identify strengths and weaknesses.
The legislation authorizes $12 million for fiscal year 2008, $10 million for fiscal year 2009 and $8 million annually for fiscal years 2010-2012.
A senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Green serves as Vice Chairman of the Health Subcommittee. His district incorporates parts of Houston and its metro area, including Aldine, Northside and the East End, Baytown, Channelview, South Houston, Pasadena, Galena Park, and Jacinto City.