Health Policymaker Focus on Bioterrorism Comes at Expense of ‘More Mundane’ Public Health Concerns
Bioterrorism has drawn the attention of health policymakers since Sept. 11 and the anthrax incidents last fall, putting some "more mundane" public health concerns on "the sidelines," officials said this week at the National Academy for State Health Policy annual conference, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. But in an address to the conference, Georges Benjamin, Maryland Health Department secretary, said that public health systems should deal with both potential bioterrorism threats and other health concerns, adding that by "reinvigorating" the public health system to address bioterrorism, health officials will be more prepared to address other disease outbreaks. Benjamin said that states' Medicaid programs also could prove useful in the event of a bioterrorist attack, because such programs are adept in contacting groups of people who often are hard to reach. Trish Riley, executive director of NASHP, noted that many taxpayers support increased funding for efforts to prepare for and combat bioterrorism, but she noted that many do not support spending money to increase health services access for the uninsured. She added, "No one questions the importance of the bioterrorism response. But as health care costs continue to rise, more uninsured are a likely consequence" (Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.