Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism is a new report from Trust for America’s Health released Tuesday that scores states on 10 indicators of high priority preparedness issues, including states’ ability to increase medical and public health capacity in an emergency, infection control, vaccination rates, access to safe water and public health funding. Kansas is in the top tier of states in readiness according to the report, but there is still more to do.
“There is room for improvement,” said John Auerbach, President & CEO of Trust for America’s Health. “That’s particularly important in light of the fact that we’re seeing more and more significant emergencies, particularly weather emergencies, around the country.”
There is action that can be taken to free up more funding for states to do this.
“At a national level we’ve found significant shortfalls,” said Auerbach. “The federal government has actually cut the emergency preparedness funds that are given to states significantly. The money that Kansas receives, for example, has been cut by about a third over the last several years. Hospitals in Kansas have been cut about 50 percent over the last several years.”
Another issue is Congress doesn’t have money set aside for emergency response.
“There isn’t a ready to tap emergency fund that has been pre-approved by Congress,” said Auerbach. “When you have an outbreak, like we had in the past with Zika and Ebola, weeks, sometimes months, can go by before Congress will allocate the necessary funds to respond. During that period of time, people can become ill and lives can be lost.”
The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act has already passed the House this session. TFAH would like to see the process finished and the bill become law.