A report finds Nebraska gets more federal dollars for public health than the national average, ranking the state 20th 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-dollars 90-cents, while Nebraskans averaged 20-dollars 54-cents.
“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.
“Nebraska does have federally-funded programs addressing arthritis, heart disease and stroke, breast and cervical cancer, diabetes and tobacco, but it doesn’t have a program for nutrition, physical activity or for school health programs or for oral health.”
To see the full report and breakdowns for every state, see the website for Trust for America’s Health at: www.healthyamericans.org.