After the Catastrophe: Disaster Relief for Hospitals

78 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2006

See all articles by Elizabeth Weeks

Elizabeth Weeks

University of Georgia School of Law


Disaster planning for health care providers following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and, more recently, Hurricane Katrina, focuses on preparing hospitals and other emergency services to respond to victims' medical needs. But little attention has been paid to the challenges that providers would face resuming normal operations after responding to the catastrophe. A large-scale catastrophe could create unprecedented demand for health care and emergency services. Hospitals already struggle to fulfill the high demand for and high costs of emergency care. Following a major disaster, hospitals would face additional financial challenges. Strained capacity and financial reserves, may force hospitals to close, just as occurred with the two largest public hospitals in New Orleans, following Katrina. To prevent the initial crisis of a terrorist-related or natural disaster from spiraling into a lasting crisis in access to medical care, this Article proposes a three-part federal disaster relief program for hospitals to be implemented before the next catastrophe.

Keywords: Heatlh care financing, disaster preparedness and response, uninsured, reimbursement, hospitals, federal responsibility

JEL Classification: A13,D63,D72,D73,D81,H41,H56,H53,I10,I11,I18

Suggested Citation

Leonard, Elizabeth, After the Catastrophe: Disaster Relief for Hospitals. North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 85, p. 223, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth Leonard (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States


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