Bioterroism and the States: How Much Improvement?

In 2003, the Trust for America’s Health released a report on state preparedness in the age of bioterrorism. The study found that despite nearly $2 billion in federal funding, state public health systems were insufficiently prepared to handle a bioterrorist attack.

In 2004, the federal government allocated an additional $1 billion to address these problems. Did this infusion of funding produced measurable gains by states in their overall readiness capabilities? Have the states made progress toward meeting federal preparedness requirements? How well prepared is our public health infrastructure to handle crises such as a flu pandemic or a smallpox outbreak?

To help address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a December 16, 2004 briefing. Panelists were: Shelley Hearne, executive director of Trust for America’s Health, who discussed the her organization’s second annual study on state preparedness for bioterrorism; Charles Schable, director of the Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michele Orza, assistant director of public health issues with the Health Care Team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office; and Leah Devlin, health director of North Carolina. James S. Marks, senior vice president and director of the Health Group, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation made introductory remarks. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the discussion.