A report finds Iowa gets fewer federal dollars for public health than the national average, ranking the state 34th in terms of funding. Rich Hamburg, spokesman for the non-profit, non-partisan group Trust for America’s Health, says the national per-capita average last year for federal health spending was $17.90, while Iowans averaged $16.37.
"Public health, in general, is chronically underfunded," Hamburg says. "We believe that we’re shortchanging how much we spend as a country on prevention and some states are clearly more shortchanged than others." He says the report, called "Shortchanging America’s Health," details how the funding disparities lead to serious gaps in the nation’s ability to protect citizens against health threats.
Hamburg says, "We’re talking about funding for programs like diabetes control, cancer, food and water safety, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness, so cutting those programs further will have a negative impact on the health of individuals." He says the Midwestern and Southern states got less federal support for public health programs than Northeastern and Western states in fiscal year 2008.
Hamburg says the programs are based on competitive grants and there’s just not enough money to fully fund them in every state."While Iowa has an arthritis, breast and cervical cancer program, it doesn’t have a heart disease and stroke program," Hamburg says. "While it has funding for tobacco control and youth risk factor behaviors, there’s not funding available in that particular state for school health programs or oral health."
To see the full report and breakdowns, go to the The Trust for America’s Health website.