As reported by Modern Healthcare, RWJF has issued its 2010 update on emergency health preparedness. In contrast to the Modern Healthcare piece, RWJF reports the highest ever scores, but progress is threatened by budget cuts. Judge for yourself. –kjh
“Ready or Not? 2010” Finds States Achieve Highest Ever Scores for Health Emergency Preparedness, But Progress Threatened by Budget Cuts
In the eighth annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, 14 states scored nine or higher on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness. Three states (Arkansas, North Dakota, and Washington State) scored 10 out of 10. Another 25 states and Washington, D.C. scored in the 7 to 8 range. No state scored lower than a five.
The scores reflect nearly 10 years of progress to improve how the nation prevents, identifies, and contains new disease outbreaks and bioterrorism threats and responds to the aftermath of natural disasters in the wake of the September 11th and anthrax tragedies. In addition, the real-world experience responding to the H1N1 flu pandemic—supported by emergency supplemental funding—also helped bring preparedness to the next level.
However, the Ready or Not? report, released today by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, notes that the almost decade of gains is in real jeopardy due to severe budget cuts by federal, state, and local governments. The economic recession has led to cuts in public health staffing and eroded the basic capabilities of state and local health departments, which are needed to successfully respond to crises. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., cut public health funding from fiscal years (FY) 2008-09 to 2009-10, with 18 of these states cutting funding for the second year in a row. The report also notes that just eight states raised funding for two or more consecutive years. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has found that states have experienced overall budgetary shortfalls of $425 billion since FY 2009.
In addition to state cuts, federal support for public health preparedness has been cut by 27 percent since FY 2005 (adjusted for inflation). Local public health departments report losing 23,000 jobs—totaling 15 percent of the local public health workforce—since January 2008. The impact of the recession was not as drastically felt by the public health workforce until more recently because supplemental funds received to support the H1N1 pandemic flu response and from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have almost entirely been used.
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Get the full text of the report here…