RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The chronic underfunding of public health left the U.S. flatfooted in its response to the pandemic, according to a new report.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit, Trust For America’s Health makes annual policy recommendations for federal, state and local leaders. The report found while the federal government spent $3.8 trillion dollars on health care in 2019, only 2.6 percent of that money went to public health and prevention programs.
Most of the money is going to health care for hospitals, doctors and treatments which with the right prevention programs researchers say could be avoided.
“Unfortunately, we have high levels of chronic disease in the country and that is both expensive and reduces people’s well-being and it made the country more vulnerable to the pandemic,” said Matt McKillop, Senior Health Policy Researcher.
The group is talking about prevention program targeting obesity, diabetes and smoking, all of which can lead to serious and underlying conditions.
When compared to other states, the report found Virginia ranked in the middle to end of the pack when is comes to CDC funding for prevention programs. The report also found Virginia cut its budget for public health in fiscal year 2020.
McKillop said the U.S. also needs to increase funding to build up its health workforce and data systems. He said some departments were using the fax machine to transmit pandemic information.
“Staffing, making sure staffing levels are adequate and that everyone has the training that they need and making sure that their systems are modernized,” said McKillop.
The Trust is calling for a $4.5 billion dollar annual investment in our nation’s core public health capabilities.
You can read the full report below: