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Report: Public Health Cuts Leaves Iowa Vunerable To Public Health Emergencies

A report has found Iowa is more vunerable to public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic because of cuts in funding.

A new report has found Iowa’s decreased spending on public health has made it more vulnerable to emergencies.

The report by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health found cuts to public health funding has made Iowa less prepared for issues like obesity, prescription drug abuse and even the COVID-19 pandemic.

It gave Iowa a four out of ten on its preparedness for disease, disaster and bioterrorism.

Nadine Gracia, the vice president for Trust for America’s Health, said public health funding in Iowa has decreased by about one percent in the past year, but it’s also been losing a lot of money from federal programs.

"Over the last decade and a half, the funding that comes from the federal level for state and local public health emergency preparedness has actually been cut almost in half, when you adjust for inflation," Gracia said.

Gracia said federal programs supply more than half of the state’s public health funding, and the cuts can be seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What's happening now is that where you see challenges, whether it's in the number of workforce that's available," Gracia said. "And that much of that is because we haven't had as a nation that sustained investment in public health."

According to the report, 32 percent of Iowans have hypertension, 35 percent of adults and 18 percent of children are obese and 10 percent have diabetes. 

Gracia said it’s the responsibility of lawmakers to fund public health programs.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter