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Friday, December 9th, 2022

Experts, public health leaders gathered to discuss need for well-funded public health system in wake of COVID-19

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Public health policy organization Trust for America’s Health and the nonprofit collective known as the Coalition for Health Funding assembled expert panelists and public health officials last week to discuss public health funding in the post-COVID landscape.

While COVID-19’s effects are ongoing, the experts focused on the future, specifically, the money needed to guarantee such an epidemic doesn’t hit as hard again. They called for a well-financed, broad-reaching public health infrastructure and workforce, benefiting from increased annual funding and long-term strategies. While emergency supplemental funding aided the COVID-19 response, the experts agreed it was not something to rely upon for long-term demands. This is especially prevalent because that money is running out.

Panelists included Dr. Nadine Gracia, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health; Lisa Macon Harrison, Health Director of Granville Vance Public Health in North Carolina and president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials; and Dr. Michael Fraser, CEO of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

In addition to their thoughts on emergency funding, at Beyond Emergency Funding: Sustaining Public Health Funding in the Post-COVID Landscape, they collectively emphasized: 

  • Long-term, flexible funding for public health to support investments in essential infrastructure, workforce, and approaches to prevention
  • Had billions been spent on public health emergency response before the recent pandemic, trillions spent on response and thousands of lives could’ve been saved
  • Investments in public health programs and the workforce to prevent illness and injury and decrease the amount of money spent on treating preventable disease
  • A nimbler system to save lives during emergencies, enshrined in sustained core public health services such as modernized data systems built on real-time data, recruitment and retention funding, as well as programs for health equity and community engagement

Further, the panelists noted that the COVID response has nearly run out. The emergency funds meant to sustain it have either been spent or are expiring, which will leave core public health services out to dry. Without additional cash, it could exacerbate health inequities already evident in the system. 

Trust for America’s Health is a non-partisan public health policy, research, and advocacy organization that envisions a nation that values the health and well-being of all and where prevention and health equity are foundational to policymaking at all levels of society.

The Coalition for Health Funding works to preserve public health investments in the interest of all Americans. Our 81 member organizations together represent more than 100 million patients and consumers, health providers, professionals, and researchers.