OCTOBER 25, 2013
Slammed by the scandal of a severely flawed billion-dollar Obamacare exchange, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just dispersed $8 million to research how at-risk populations recover from disasters, including assessing the hurricane resilience of public housing residents.
The money will go to the usual recipients, leftist groups and academic institutions that will focus on low-income communities since HHS asserts they were the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy last year. In fact, HHS says in its grant announcement that this latest round of taxpayer dollars is for “Hurricane Sandy recovery research.” It marks the first time the agency has funded this kind of research, which it claims is needed by local communities to support long-term recovery efforts.
The studies will span two years and will focus on physical and behavioral health aspects of recovery, including community resilience, risk communication and the use of social media, health system response and health care access. Evacuation, policy decision making and mental health will also be analyzed. American taxpayers should prepare because this is just the beginning; “much more research is needed to support decision making in the long-term recovery process and ultimately to improve resilience,” according to the HHS assistant secretary in charge of this brilliant project.
On the bright side, the “knowledge gained” from researching how low-income and at-risk populations hold up in hurricanes will be shared with the rest of the nation—presumably the middle and upper class funding the research—because it “can improve resilience across the entire country,” says the HHS official, Dr. Nicole Lurie. In fact, before Uncle Sam cuts the check grant recipients must agree to share their findings with each other as well as the impacted communities.
Let’s take a look at where some of the money is going. An Ivy League university in New York is getting north of $870,000 to assess the resilience of high-rise public housing in responding to Hurricane Sandy’s impact and determine how community-level factors influence mental and behavioral health recovery. The community-level factors include social connections and economic development as well as communication.
A medical school in New Jersey is getting nearly $700,000 to examine how social networks within neighborhoods play a critical role in determining resilience of older Americans exposed to disasters and a university in Baltimore is receiving more than $400,000 to pin down how social connections in a community of Maryland watermen influence their individual behavior. The goal of that allocation is to then discover how the watermen’s behavior impacts disaster recovery.
Well over half a million dollars is going to a Pittsburgh university that will study ways to minimize disruptions in healthcare services for at-risk populations during disaster recovery and a southern California nonprofit is getting $657,000 to explore partnerships between local health departments and community-based organizations.
In the meantime, HHS finds itself in the middle of a massive firestorm over the botched Obamacare website, which has cost U.S. taxpayers at least $1 billion, according to a scathing new report. Many are calling for Obama HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign over the debacle, which is being investigated by Congress.
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