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Texas Warned Against Cutting Bioterror And Pandemic Response Capacity

Hand position for vaccination
Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A CDC demonstration showing how to administer the smallpox vaccine. A new study says Texas and most other states should not cut funding for public health emergency preparedness.

Texas scored 7 out of 10 in public health emergency readiness, according to a new report issued today by theRobert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust For America's Health. The study lauds Texas for improving health spending over the past couple years, but warns that the state's looming budget shortfall could reduce our ability to deal with epidemics and bioterrorism.

Texas received the highest accolades for increasing spending on public health programs when many states were cutting back. The report says Texas spent 17.4 percent more in fiscal year 2009-2010 compared to fiscal year 2008-09.

We also got points for our health information technology, electronic monitoring, emergency readiness at child care centers, and funding public health laboratories.

The report says Texas could improve its preparedness by conducting more training sessions at its state emergency operations center, and improve reporting of outbreaks of pathogens like E. Coli to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the overarching message of the study was that states should not cut back spending on preparing for public health emergencies. It says extra federal cash from the stimulus program and to help deal with swine flu pandemic mitigated the effect of many state level budget.

"There is an emergency for emergency health preparedness in the United States," Trust for America's Health executive director Dr. Jeff Levi said in a news release. "This year, the Great Recession is taking its toll on emergency health preparedness.

Read the full report here.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.