The former West Virginia public health leader forced out by the governor says decades-old computer systems and cuts to staff over a period of years had made a challenging job even harder during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources necessary to confront the worst health crisis in a century. An investigation by The Associated Press and KHN has found that since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and for local health departments by 18%. At least 38,000 public health jobs have disappeared, leaving a skeletal workforce for what was once viewed as one of the world’s top public health systems. That has left the nation unprepared to deal with a virus that has sickened at least 2.6 million people and killed more than 126,000.
To assess the state of the public health system in the United States, KHN and The Associated Press analyzed data on government spending and staffing at national, state and local levels. Here’s what data we used and how we did it.
KHN and The Associated Press sought to understand how decades of cuts to public health departments by federal, state and local governments has affected the system meant to protect the nation’s health. Here are six key takeaways from the KHN-AP investigation.
As health workers were dying of COVID-19, federal work-safety officials filed just one citation against an employer and rapidly closed complaints about protective gear.
Around the country, police responded to protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death by shooting “less lethal” projectiles, which can seriously hurt and kill. In a joint investigation, KHN and USA TODAY found some officers appear to have violated their department’s own rules when they fired.
Public health officials are confronting growing pressure — and threats — across the country as the backlash to the coronavirus response continues. At least 27 state and local health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 13 states.
The Guardian and KHN release new figures Saturday showing the harsh toll that the pandemic is taking on the front-line health workers.
A Kaiser Health News database tracks campaign donations from drugmakers over the past 10 years.
The influential trade association has said little over the years as health systems, including those of its own trustees, seized patients’ incomes and assets. Now it is reevaluating.
The federal government funneled billions in subsidies to software vendors and some overstated or deceived the government about what their products could do, according to whistleblowers.
Millions of injuries and malfunctions once funneled into a hidden Food and Drug Administration database are now available.
In the wake of a Kaiser Health News investigation, doctors want the University of Virginia’s health system to stop suing its patients over unpaid bills.
The agency approved Gilead’s “game changer” hepatitis C cure, bypassing concerns raised by its own federal inspectors.
Patients were thrilled last month when UVA announced it would scale back lawsuits and provide more financial assistance, but the excitement has waned.
Companies are aggressively touting 3D mammograms, although there’s no evidence they save lives.
A letter from the Senate Finance Committee chairman questions the University of Virginia Health System about its financial assistance policies, billing practices and prices.
Patients at VCU Health will no longer be taken to court and can more easily get financial assistance to pay their bills.
But critics say the new policy still leaves some patients exposed to lawsuits and crippling bills.
KHN reported this week that the University of Virginia Health System has filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients the past six years.