Too much of the country remains vulnerable to the effects of a bioterrorism attack and other health emergencies, according to a report put out by a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.
For example, six years after the terrorist destruction of New York's World Trade Center, 21 states do not have adequate legal liability protections in place for emergency workers. The findings were released by the Trust for America's Health, a group that works to better health conditions nationally.
But residents and business owners in eight states can rest assured that their home states are leading the pack when it comes to meeting 10 indicators for emergency health preparedness.
Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and Hawaii are the states that meet all 10 of the nonprofit's key standards for health emergency preparedness.
Examples of those indicators include adequate planning to distribute emergency vaccines; sufficient labs to test biological threats; conducting annual emergency preparedness exercises with the National Guard; and increasing or maintaining funds for public health in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.
The good news is that the majority of states showed improvement over 2005 in meeting the nonprofit's standards. The bad news is that six states managed to achieve only six out of 10 of the nonprofit's goals.
Underwriters of liability policies in Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, Wisconsin and Wyoming should be on notice that those states lag the rest of the country in health emergency preparedness, according to the nonprofit.
Jeff Levi, the executive director of TFAH, also decried continued funding cuts to federal investing in state and federal preparedness programs.
"These efforts may seem penny-wise now, but could prove pound-foolish later," Levi warned.
March 1, 2008
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