Supplemental bill will fund emergency community health centers

Also boost funding for Army combat medical systems

The 2006 emergency supplemental bill approved by a congressional conference committee Thursday includes funds to establish an emergency communications network for public health centers in hurricane-threatened states as well as added funding for Army battlefield medical systems.

The 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terrorism and Hurricane Recovery includes a $4 million allocation to the Health Resources and Services Administration to set up a communications network for community health centers, major medical centers and departments of public health in states in the southeastern hurricane belt.

The conference report on the emergency bill said the funds for can be used to buy satellite phones and other equipment that can operate when other forms of communication are out of operation, as happened last year in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The emergency bill also includes $11.3 million for the Army's Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) program, which supplies rugged laptop and handheld computers and associated software to combat medical units in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While MC4 has fielded over 12,000 pieces of hardware in Iraq since combat operations started there in 2003, lack of funding delayed supplies to Afghanistan until this March.

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