Investing in America's Health 2014

The nation’s public health system has been chronically underfunded for decades. Major investments are needed to improve health and workplace productivity, and reduce health care costs.

The Issue:

Lack of sufficient funds hampers public health departments from carrying out many core functions, among them, reducing preventable diseases (such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes), and preparing for health emergencies.

In this report, the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) examines public health funding and key health facts in states around the country.  

“For too long, the country has focused on treating people after they become sick instead of preventing diseases before they occur."

Key Findings

  • Federal funding for the CDC has decreased by more than $1 billion or 15 percent (fiscal year 2005 to 2013). Some 75 percent of the CDC’s budget is distributed to support services and programs of states and other partners.

  • State public health budgets have been cut 17 percent over an even shorter period (2008 to 2012) with vital services reduced and programs cut.

  • There is little consistency among health departments in funding, structure, and responsibilities.

  • Per capita funding for states varies widely, from a high of $144.99 in Hawaii to a low of $5.86 in Missouri, with a median of $27.49.

  • Health statistics vary widely, too. For example, adult diabetes is highest in West Virginia (13%) and lowest in Alaska (7%).