Shortchanging America's Health 2009

A State-by-State Look at How Federal Public Health Dollars are Spent and Key State Health Facts

Currently, serious gaps exist in the nation’s ability to safeguard health, and with the current state of the economy, these gaps will only get worse, putting our families, communities, states and nation at risk. The country does not devote the resources needed to adequately help prevent disease and protect the health of Americans.

In this report, Trust for America's Health (TFAH) examines how much the federal government spends to try to keep the country well. A state-by-state review of fiscal year 2008 spending reveals that federal funding (through U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for public health varies, often significantly, with a per capita low of $12.74 to a per capita high of $52.78. The national average is $17.60 per person, a fraction of what is spent on health care costs. The report also examines state funding for public health. Each state allocates and reports its budget in a different way. States also vary widely in the level of specific detail they provide, which makes comparisons across states a challenge.

The median state spending on public health is $33.71 per person, with a range of $3.37 per person in Nevada to $172.21 per person in Hawaii. This analysis looks at ways to begin comparing budgets across states, and how increased transparency and accountability could help create an understanding of how spending on public health programs can have a positive impact on people’s health.

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