The effectiveness of the National Disaster Medical System has been hamstrung by "mismanagement, bureaucratic reshuffling and inadequate funding," and as a result, the system was grossly unprepared for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a report by Democratic staff of the House Committee on Government Reform. The report said Bush administration officials were warned of the deficiencies as early as 2002, when an internal HHS memo identified major gaps in the readiness of the medical system. The problems were exacerbated in 2003 when the Department of Homeland Security took over the program. A department spokesman told the Associated Press that the system was not flawed or underfunded; the problem was the unprecedented number of people who required help after the hurricane. Earlier this year, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff proposed a reorganization of his department. The committee's report said the plan does not go far enough in regards to the National Disaster Medical System, which needs stronger medical leadership, more command and control over medical assets, and adequate and stable funding. Formed in 1984, the system is made up of federal, state and local governments and healthcare providers. Read the report. -- by Matthew DoBias
Management, funding woes mar disaster system: report
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