In a recent interview with Governing Magazine, Brian Castrucci, CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, outlined several measures needed to protect public health in a post-COVID future.
The Governing article discusses the need for collective action to prevent future public health crises, noting “the pandemic has cost the U.S. $16 trillion — an amount equal to 90 percent of the country’s annual GDP.” Dr. Castrucci leads the de Beaumont Foundation, a Bethesda-based nonprofit that focuses on improving health at the community level by investing in tools, partnerships, policies, and the public health workforce.
Among the measures put forth, Dr. Castrucci suggests funding state public health programs through “a Medicaid-type model, where the states have to put up a certain match.” He adds, “Some states will not choose to participate today but over time they will, and America will be safer.” Dr. Castrucci is deeply critical of the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic citing a lack of resources and uniform response:
We are trying to have a pandemic surge response, but that surge is on a broken foundation. We need 80,000 more [full-time employees] just to repair and rebuild the basic public health services that we need, that every American deserves.
It’s not just the people, it’s the systems. If you believe in a “U.S. public health system,” you probably also believe in unicorns because neither exists. We have 50 individual, separately operated public health systems, investing different amounts of money per capita, prioritizing different things.
MACo has also expressed concern for public health investment in recent years, having supported several bills increasing the state funding formula for local health departments. In 2021, SB 563 passed resulting in local health departments receiving an additional $3.2 million in Fiscal Year 2025 and $11.3 million in Fiscal Year 2026.
In fact, Dr. Castrucci highlights how state and local governments can help by directly addressing disinformation in their communities:
State and local governments need to bring everyone together and have honest and crucial conversations about what happened, what went wrong and how we will defeat viruses in the future. We need to have nationwide resilience building, but you can’t build resilience while you’re yelling and screaming hateful things at each other.