Not all states are prepared yet to tackle health emergencies, though some progress has been made, according to a report from the not-for-profit Trust for Americas Health.
The report scored all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 10 indicators to assess health emergency preparedness capabilities. States received one point for each indicator they achieved. Thirty-five states and the district scored eight or higher on the scale of 10 indicators, with Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia scoring the highest with 10 out of 10. Although this shows progress, six states: Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, Wisconsin and Wyoming, scored the lowest with six out of 10.
The report also found that 13 states dont have adequate plans to distribute emergency vaccines, antidotes and medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, and 21 dont have statutes that provide adequate liability protection for healthcare volunteers during emergencies.
More federal support is needed to sustain and improve upon these programs, said Jeff Levi, the trusts executive director. Just when we are beginning to see a return on the federal investment in preparedness programs, the president and Congress have continued to cut these funds. Bushs fiscal 2008 budget includes a cut of $146 million for bioterrorism and public health preparedness programs, a 25% cut from fiscal 2005, the report stated. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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