HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, April 25, 2005

Public Health Post-September 11

The AmedNews has a story discussing the changes in public health funding and infrastructure post-September 11.  Some doctors are disappointed in the lack of true change and others are concerned about the focus of the spending.   

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax scare that followed, it seemed that the nation's public health system, shabby from decades of neglect, finally might get its due. These two incidents did what numerous reports from esteemed institutions -- including the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as frequent declarations of need from the American Medical Association -- could not.

In a sense, public health had found not only the limelight but also a seeming pot of gold. Millions since have flowed from the federal government to state and local health departments.

"We're putting money in the hands of states and local communities so they can start building strong public health systems for responding to a bioterrorism attack," said then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in a statement issued Jan. 31, 2002, that announced $1.1 billion in funding for bioterrorism preparedness.

Three years later, many physicians and public health officials are viewing the glass as both half full and half empty -- with new emphasis placed on crisis response but sometimes at the expense of chronic conditions.
It is interesting to see where money is, and is not, going and what results have been achieved so far.  [bm]

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