Local Health Officials Express Concern over FY 2011 Funding Reductions

As reported in today’s Baltimore Sun, many health officials are concerned about reduced funding levels in the FY 2011 budget which will carry forward as permanent cuts to local health departments.

“We’re very concerned about the viability of local health departments,” said Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, president of the Maryland Association of County Health Officers and a Frederick County employee.

The spending plan that lawmakers are poised to adopt this week contains $37 million in state funds for local health departments – about the same amount they received in 1997. As recently as two years ago, the local departments got $73 million in state money for their operations. Local governments also contribute to local health departments, which are technically state agencies.

County officials are concerned about more than this year’s dollar amount. The state budget, they say, creates a new baseline for their funding that is to continue for several years, meaning they might not benefit if the economy improves.

The reductions “will be permanent,” Brookmyer said in a telephone interview. In the past two years, state funding for public health dropped more than 40 percent and 416 jobs were eliminated, Brookmyer said.

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