A group that monitors critical emergency preparedness programs says some Nebraska programs face serious cuts in federal funding.
Rich Hamburg, deputy director of Trust For America’s Health, says federal grants support programs including those that detect and respond to bioterrorism, disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
One such program on the chopping block is called the City Readiness Initiative.
“Omaha is one of the cities that was added in the last few years,” Hamburg says. “Those are grants that are used to better prepare cities to distribute vaccines and anti-viral medications and other materials in an emergency like a pandemic flu outbreak.”
He says the City Readiness Initiative is “looking at a $12-million cut in a $62-million program over the past year.”
Hamburg says federal budget cuts are jeopardizing the emergency preparedness capabilities of public health departments in Nebraska and nationwide.
“We just had a pandemic flu outbreak two years ago,” Hamburg says, “so the timing couldn’t be worse.”
Cuts at the federal level in these areas date back to 2003, he says, as a multi-state agreement that peaked at $1-billion dollars is down to $658-million under the budget plan that was approved by Congress last week.
Hamburg says, “There are across-the-board cuts that are going to affect Nebraska in hospital preparedness, in public health emergency preparedness, these large grants that go to states that have been cut by 38% over the last five years alone.”
The report on the subject from Trust For America’s Health is called: “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism.” See the online version at the website: www.healthyamericans.org.