Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is asking for a hearing on a proposal by HHS to require members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps meet health and fitness standards and be able to leave on deployment on short notice. The draft proposal of the change was announced last month by HHS. Under the current system, corps officers can voluntarily go on deployment. About 2,000 of the total 6,000 officers of the corps, the uniformed service of HHS, do so now.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Waxman warned of an exodus of doctors and other healthcare professionals from the corps if the policy is implemented. In calling for congressional hearings Waxman, in a separate letter to House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.), writes that HHS has not justified the need for the changes nor considered the impact of them on the work of "science-based agencies across the government who rely on officers in the Commissioned Corps." -- by Tony Fong