Under Tight Budgets, Public Health Spending Falls For First Time

January 7, 2013
by Jay Hancock
Kaiser Health News


Policymakers took heart from another year of relatively slow health-spending growth in 2011, documented by government statisticians and disclosed in a report Monday. But one aspect of moderating health expenditures — and the only category showing outright decline — could cost more than it saves. Hit by recession and tight budgets, spending on public health by federal, state and local governments fell in 2011 for the first time since analysts started tracking the numbers in 1960.

“Public health is adaptable, but the resource reductions now have been so substantial that it truly does put the public’s health at risk,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, an organization of public health pros. “I’m usually a little reluctant to say that, but we’re at that point.”


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