Affordable Care Act to help fight infectious diseases across the country

The Health and Human Services department is expected to award $48.8 million to bolster epidemiology, laboratory and health information systems in health departments in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, the District of Columbia, New York City, Los Angeles County, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston.

The funding is made possible by the Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreements, Infection Control Today reports.

This is the third year of funding.

"Today's awards support the critical work of public health departments to prevent, track and respond to new and emerging infectious diseases," head of the HHS Kathleen Sebelius said, Infection Control Today reports.

Departments will be able to improve disease reporting and monitoring by hiring and training staff, investing in information technology and buying equipment and supplies through the funding.

Forty-nine states and Puerto Rico will use the funding to carry out strategies to protect patients from healthcare-associated infections. Forty-nine states, five large cities, the district and Puerto Rico will also develop capacity to participate in meaningful use of electronic health records. All fifty states, the district, the five largest cities, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Palau will use funds to support public health epidemiology and laboratory staff, equipment, supplies, travel and training, Infection Control Today reports.

The awards include $3.4 million in annual appropriations and $45.4 million in Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund resources, divided up with $35.3 million for epidemiology-laboratory capacity, $9.3 million for healthcare-associated infections and $0.8 million for immunization.