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States Take Federal Funding to Task

NCJ Number
Biodefense Quarterly Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Dated: Summer 2002 Pages: 1-2,8
Elin Gursky
Date Published
3 pages
This article describes how Maryland has used funding under the Federal Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to strengthen its public health system to better prepare to respond to a terrorist attack.
The appropriations bill sent $1.1 billion to 62 States and territories and 3 major cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York). The fiscal year 2002 funds included $918 million to support preparedness capacities of State and local public health agencies and $125 million to create hospital response plans. To qualify for funding, States developed work plans that address six required areas: preparedness planning and readiness assessment; surveillance and epidemiology capacity; laboratory capacity for biologic agents; communications and information technology; risk, communication, and health information dissemination; and education and training. From the outset, all essential stakeholders assumed a role in developing the Maryland Bioterrorism Plan through the State's Public Health Bioterrorism Preparedness Advisory Group. State public health officials developed a three-tiered strategy for allocating funds to local public health agencies. Complicating the best use of Federal public health dollars in Maryland is the existence of differing levels of readiness across local health agencies and the need to draw local enhancements into the overall State objectives. In addition, there are varying interests among local public entities for expenditures on technology compared to planning and personnel. State policymakers prefer that 60 percent of funding be used to address workforce issues; however, local health agencies may perceive that the remaining 40 percent to be spent on sophisticated tools and equipment as the easier investment. Of the six focus areas, preparedness planning and readiness assessment will receive the largest allocation of funds to local health departments in Maryland. The development of proficiency in all six areas of public health operation is acknowledged by State officials to require long-term commitment and sustained funding. 3 notes