STATEMENT FROM THE HEALTHCARE COALITION ON EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS REGARDING PASSAGE OF H.R. 5974 - VA COST SAVINGS ENHANCEMENTS ACT, Sponsored by Representative Jeff Denham (CA-10)
“Rep. Jeff Denham’s legislation will help the Veterans Administration’s efforts to increase sustainability, emergency preparedness, decrease emissions by taking trucks off the road, and lower costs at VA Medical Centers,” said coalition leader Darrell Henry. “By increasing the deployment of on-site equipment to treat Regulated Medical Waste, we believe that the legislation will benefit the VA as well patients and neighboring communities.”
“Most importantly to the coalition, on-site treatment of infectious waste allows hospitals to maintain operational sustainability during crisis events due to surge treatment capacity, and transportation constraints,” said Henry.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars testified in support of this bill, stating that “In areas where it would result in cost savings, there is absolutely no reason why VA should not be discarding their own medical waste…”
In a report to Congress in 2012, the Veterans Administration provided data that compared cost estimates between handling the treatment of infectious medical waste on-site versus offsite. The VA found that on-site treatment costs half as much as hauling waste off site to treatment (the most current technologies can treat waste for $0.07-$0.09 /pound, while off-site disposal services will cost most hospitals $0.30-$0.60/pound).
In a February 2016 report to Congress, the VA acknowledged ‘that there are cost savings as well as beneficial environmental impacts and [energy] savings associated with on-site medical waste treatment” and it identified “facilities within certain regions of the country that would benefit from the BPA [for on-site medical waste systems] for emergency management and natural disaster scenarios, and anticipated cost savings.”
Around 1,000 hospitals in America have on-site waste sterilization systems in daily use to treat regulated medical waste and Category A infectious substances. These existing and affordable technologies can kill Category A pathogens, as suggested by the CDC, such that infected items become sterile and safe for handling by healthcare workers (and even the public).
The Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness was formed in an effort to raise awareness and educate people about often overlooked issues in plans to maintain healthcare facility operations during a crisis and to develop efficient methods to reduce healthcare costs.
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