As the reports on the spread of Ebola flood in from West Africa, and now from our own country, many state leaders are asking whether their states are prepared to handle a possible epidemic. In this blog, CSG presents some background on preparedness planning and funding in the states.In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued national standards for state and local planning for public health preparedness

As Americans are living longer there is a greater need to conduct state by state health needs of seniors. The America’s Health Ranking Senior Report 2013 Edition by the United Health Foundation reports that about 80 percent of people age 65 or older have one chronic disease and about 50 percent have at least two. The rate of chronic diseases is growing and so too is the portion of the population that is age 65 and over.  One out of every eight Americans is a senior and 79 million baby boomers are fast approaching senior status.

Results from a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are calling for more prevention to help curb the diabetes epidemic. The study, titled "Secular Changes in the Age Specific Prevalence of Diabetes among U.S. Adults" spans from 1988 to 2010 with samples taken from adults in three differ time periods including 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2004, and 2005 to 2010. Research was conducted using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to collect evidence from 22, 586 adults.

Federal health reform expanded private health plan coverage for preventive services that can keep people healthy, save lives and reduce health care costs, which many Americans do not receive. Starting Jan. 1, 2011, new group and individual private health plans are required to cover recommended preventive services, and patients do not have copayments or deductibles when in-network providers are used. To prevent sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, covered services include screening tests, prevention counseling and immunizations. Coverage for preventive services by Medicare and Medicaid is also expanded.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages the federal government to allow flexibility in program requirements during response to a pandemic flu outbreak, to continue funding and technical support for state and local responses, and to provide effective communications to states on priority response actions. Additionally, federal agencies need to coordinate their efforts to facilitate regional sharing of services and support between states.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges states to implement, test and review pandemic preparedness plans for both the state and local jurisdictions to protect the health of citizens as well as the social and economic infrastructure, and to improve the ability to respond to any type of public health emergency. State legislators are encouraged to be leaders in this process, to become familiar with state and local preparedness plans, and to participate in testing of state and local plans including communications with emergency planners and constituents.