Funding Crunch Could Stall Progress on Emergency Preparedness in California

In a California Healthline Special Report, Leigh Hall, deputy health director for Sonoma County; Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health; and Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, discussed how dwindling funding for disaster planning could hinder the state’s public health response during a natural disaster, pandemic or bioterrorism attack.

An outpouring of federal funding after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks allowed California to significantly increase its emergency response capabilities, but a drop off in federal funding and a state budget crunch could threaten that progress, the experts said.

“We’re concerned about its impact on us, on our ability to maintain the level of readiness that we’ve been able to ramp up to,” Horton said.

Hall said, “[I]t’s difficult to prioritize and work like we would have if we’d be able to have some stable funding.”

In a recent national survey by Trust for America’s Health, California achieved eight out of 10 indicators used to assess preparedness capabilities. Levi said, “What the indicators do not necessarily collect is the level of activity and focus that a state has undertaken on this issue — and California is probably the leader among states at being focused on preparedness” (Rebillot, California Healthline, 1/2).

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