How to Increase Public Health Funding
By Nar Ramkissoon
Special Report on Public Health Funding; Synopsis Part 2
In part two of our look into the Trust for America’s Health report, Investing in America's Health, we'll move beyond the raw funding numbers, and expand into how we, as Americans, can help make our country's people healthier and more prosperous. As we mentioned in last week's article, public health funding is down and unable to keep up with the rising demand. As a result, the report asserts that America as a whole is less productive than it should be. Public health departments help deter the spread of preventable diseases, and its immunizations and vaccinations help keep health costs down for the entire population. It makes sense too. If you take the preventative measures provided by local health agencies, then you'll have to go to the doctor less, and spend less on health care.
In the report, the foundation lays out a two-step plan to help make sure public health departments are able to provide the American public with everything they need. The first step is, obviously, to increase funding. The report calls for funding to not only be able to sufficiently meet demand for service, but also be stable, so that public health does not drop significantly during a recession when the services are needed most. For years, funding to these departments has been steadily dropping (as shown in on previous article on public health care funding in 2013), but the responsibility the departments have been asked to take on have actually increased. The report proposes that public health funding should at the very least meet a minimum baseline of capabilities for every community in the country.
Taking this minimum baseline of services the population needs, and converting it to a per capita number will help establish a standardized funding level for public health departments nationwide. Federal, state, and local funding should then meet these baseline requirements.
The report also proposes that congress should double the grants it gives out to communities, as the current grant system only impacts 40% of the population. It's also vital that public health departments should not have to pay for direct services when they can otherwise be paid for through insurance (this is also a key feature of Upp Technology's Public Health Claims Management program).
It's more than just increasing funding to public health departments though, step 2 from the report is making sure the departments are equipped to handle the influx in funds effectively. Even as it stands now, public health departments can increase their revenue by as much as 70% just by implementing proper claims management and billing programs. Giving any agency more money can lead to more waste, so it's vastly important that the funding comes with high transparency and accountability requirements.
The local health departments should responsibly use the funding to continue improving the quality of their services, seeking accreditation, and full transparency. Every expenditure of tax money should be properly recorded and go towards improving the community. Completing these processes, and showing how capable the departments are, can also be tied into how much funding the departments receive.
It's not an easy process, but increased funding and accountability for public health departments will have a large impact on the overall health and productivity of our nation.