Analysis: Texas could see biggest drop in federal health funds

Texas could see the biggest drop of any state next year when it comes to federal funding for emergency public health threats, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News. 

The Lone Star State was where Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola and the first to die from the disease. Health officials acknowledge the Dallas hospital where he was admitted flubbed his treatment, resulting in the infections of two nurses.

In fiscal 2014, Texas received more than $37,450,000 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program. For fiscal 2015, President Obama proposed to decrease Texas’s grant by 8.1 percent to just over $34,450,000.

{mosads}The program provides grants to state and local public health departments to “effectively respond to a range of public health threats, including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological events,” CDC says on its website. 

“Based on the recent confirmed Ebola cases, funding should be a priority,” Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, told Bloomberg News. “We’re looking to Congress to increase funding.” 

Obama’s proposal for the CDC program lowered its funding by $28 million across the country. 

The budget request didn’t clearly explain the drop in funding except to say that the grants have provided nearly $9 billion to public health departments nationwide since 2002 to upgade their capabilities. For fiscal 2015, the administration said the grants are meant for “capability sustainment.”

After Texas, Florida and North Carolina could see a 7.1 percent decrease in their grant funding. Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. would see the smallest decreases, Bloomberg found.

The Obama administration is expected to submit another funding request to Congress for the federal response to Ebola. Any new funding would likely be folded into an omnibus spending bill lawmakers are expected to take up in the lame-duck session. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet just two days after the midterm elections to discuss Ebola funding.

Democratic appropriators in the House have demanded their own funding hearing, but Republicans have yet to respond to their request.

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