States have yet to spend millions of federal dollars to deal with Covid

In March 2021, the Biden administration announced that it was investing $ 2.25 billion in addressing cod health inequalities, the largest federally funded initiative specifically designed to help underdeveloped communities most affected by the virus.

Two months later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided grants to each state’s health department and 58 major city and county health agencies. The purpose of the fund is to limit the spread of Kovid-19 in rural areas and among those at high risk among ethnic and racial minorities, as well as to improve their health. The CDC initially said the grant should be spent by May 2023, but earlier this year told states that they could apply for an extension.

One year later – Kovid has killed 1 million people in the United States since the epidemic began and millions more have been hospitalized – according to a KHN review of grants from nearly a dozen state and county agencies, little money has been used. Although some states and territories have allocated large portions of CDC funds for projects, they still spend small amounts.

The Missouri Department of Health did not spend any of the 35.6 million. Wisconsin, Illinois and Idaho – whose state health departments received between $ 27 million and $ 31 million each – used less than 5% of their grant money.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health used about 6% of its approximately .7 27.7 million grant.

The California Department of Health has spent only 10% of its 32.5 million funding.

Public health agencies give a litany of reasons for this: they need time to recruit people. They blame their state’s long budget process. They say it takes time to work with nonprofits to set up programs or use their money. They are already tapping other federal dollars to fight Kovid inequality.

One of the main reasons Republicans in Congress oppose Democrats’ efforts to make billions of dollars worth of federal dollars suitable for managing the epidemic is to mount unsolicited Covid relief dollars.

The slow distribution also highlights the impact of years of neglect for the public health system and the boom-bust cycle of legal funding. “These are investments that overwhelm a system that has been starving for so long,” said Dr. Osama Bilal, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Dr. Carsten Bibins-Domingo, chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California-San Francisco, adds that the public health system lacks resources and that it is difficult to connect with local nonprofits so quickly to fight the epidemic.

“The epidemic sheds light on this huge health inequality, but it also sheds light on the fact that [public health systems] There is no structure to partner directly with the community, ”he said.

This fund is intended to reduce the uneven effects of the epidemic on minorities. While adjusting for age differences between ethnic and racial groups, the black, Hispanic, and Native American communities experienced higher hospital admissions and mortality rates than whites. Such adjustments are needed, the researchers say, since color communities are younger.

Despite the need to address these issues, the Riverside County Department of Health in California has spent about $ 700,000 of its .4 23.4 million grant, which is separate from state health department funding.

Wendy Heatherington, head of the agency’s public health program, said: “Public health has historically been underfunded, and suddenly it means a lot more to us than ever before.” “It’s great that we got this fund because it is needed, but we’re trying to spend it.”

Part of the problem was that county health officials had to wait six months for local government approval to spend it. Then, he said, he faced delays in negotiating agreements with nonprofits in the area.

Stan Weiger, a senior fellow at the Conservative American Enterprise Institute, echoed the concerns of Republican lawmakers, saying the slowdown in grants shows that Congress sent more epidemic relief than state and local governments because their tax revenues returned much faster than expected.

“This raises the question of why this separate grant program was set up,” he said.

Rachel Gressler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who argued against the new Covid Relief Fund in Congress, said the slowdown also shows how states need time to absorb revenue flows and develop programs, especially when governments need to. Chain problem.

The CDC said the money could be used to prevent the spread of the Kovid virus, improve data collection, expand Kovid-related health services and help address the social and economic problems that hinder many minority communities from receiving adequate care during an epidemic. .

CDC officials are working with the group to implement the grant, spokesman Jade Fools said.

Since the term “health inequality” encompasses the challenges facing all types of population groups, the meaning can be applied to almost anything that affects health.

The Illinois Department of Public Health received $ 28.9 million and spent $ 138,000, according to spokesman Mike Clafi. The state plans to spend some money on translating American sign language for Kovid content, reaching out to inmates, mobile health units for rural areas, and hiring community health workers.

“The goal was to design programs that build the healthcare infrastructure and address these historic inequalities in a significant and meaningful way,” Claffey said.

Spokesman Jeremy Redfern said the Florida Department of Health plans to use প্রায় 236,000 of its approximately $ 35 million grant for covid-related hearing screening due to the covid-related closure.

The Miami-Dade County Department of Health has spent $ 4 million of its $ 28 million CDC grant. It is funding local nonprofit groups to address food insecurity and language barriers. Like other jurisdictions, the county noted that it has provided funds that groups have not yet spent, including $ 100,000, to improve literacy in the larger Haitian community. Saradjine Batrony says she hopes to help 60 to 100 people with the grant, starting in May.

“Language barriers prevent people from getting vaccinated,” said Batroni, a researcher at the University of Miami who focused on translating health-related documents into Haitian Creole before starting his own company last year.

About $ 4.6 million in CDC grants from Pennsylvania went to the state’s rural health office, which planned to pay in 20 counties last fall. As of May 5, it had not financed any of them.

Rachel Foster, Grameen Covid-19 program manager at the Penn State University-based organization, said: “In rural Pennsylvania, the case is low, interest in vaccines has waned, and rural residents feel the epidemic is over.”

Some counties and states say they are addressing health inequality issues before the CDC discriminates.

Philadelphia’s $ 8.3 million grant follows a number of CDC awards that also addressed issues affecting underdeveloped communities, spokesman Matthew Rankin said. Philadelphia has spent about 7 147,000 on inequality grants.

The University of Florida Healthcare in Jacksonville received a 1. 1.25 million grant from Duval County last July to expand services to communities disproportionately affected by Covid. But in early May, the university has not yet received the money, spokesman Dan Leveton said. “We are not concerned because we have other Covid funds that we are using now and will use the CDC funds when they arrive,” he said.

Mississippi received 48 48.4 million, the single-largest award from any state health organization from a grant. So far, the agency has spent $ 8.2 million, spokeswoman Liz Charlotte said, although it has already used other federal relief dollars to address cowardly health inequalities.

As states decide how to spend money, health experts are concerned about the consequences politically and for communities that need help.

“Money is very much needed, but we need to consider that these health departments have been overburdened for a long time and they don’t really have enough people to handle it,” said Bilal of Drexel.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that creates in-depth journalism about health issues. KHN is one of the three major operating programs of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), including policy analysis and polling. KFF is a non-profit organization that provides health information to the nation.

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