Many states behind on public health preparedness

You'd think the H1N1 virus outbreak might have turned the U.S. emergency response system on overnight, but unfortunately, things just aren't that simple. In fact, a new report suggests that at least 20 states are well behind in efforts to prepare for future public health emergencies.

The report, which comes from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that the 20 states in question met only six or less of the researchers' 10 key indicators for public health emergency preparedness.

This was true despite the fact that many states have made big investments in pandemic and public health preparedness over the past several years, which did help during the worst of the H1N1 flu outbreak. Still, states have underfunded such programs for decades, the report notes, and recent spending hasn't done enough to catch them up.

Some of the biggest concerns identified by the researchers include a lack of real-time, coordinated disease surveillance, outdated vaccine production options and limited hospital surge capacity. And with more than half of states seeing recent cuts to public health funding, they've had too small a budget to close many of these gaps.

To learn more about these issues:
- read this Healthcare Finance News piece
- read the RWJF report (.pdf)

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