The Seven States Least Prepared for Disaster

Print Email

7. Colorado
> Score: 4
> All-hazards preparedness funding: $15,489,507 (up 3.6%)
> Pct. change in public health funding: -3.9%

Colorado is among a small minority of states where Medicaid isn’t required to cover flu shots with no co-pay, leaving a large proportion of the population exposed to potential illnesses. In addition, the state does not have enough staffing capacity at its state health laboratories to deal with a potential breakout of an infectious disease. Less than one-third of other states share these distinctions. Colorado is one of just 14 states where public health funding has decreased for three consecutive years. The only indicator where Colorado fared better than the majority of states was that it participates in the Nurse Licensure Compact, one of just 24 states to do so. This program allows nurses registered in participating states to practice in all other participating states and could help Colorado obtain the medical staffing necessary in case of a public health emergency.

6. Georgia
Score: 4
All-hazards preparedness funding: $26,701,047 (up 2.3%)
Pct. change in public health funding: 1.2%

The good news for Georgia residents is that it was among the minority of states that increased its public health funding budget. However, Georgia was weaker than most states in a number of areas. Similar to many states with low scores, and unlike the majority of states, Medicaid in Georgia doesn’t cover flu shots without co-pays for those under 65. Georgia also doesn’t have a law requiring that child-care facilities have a multi-hazard evacuation plan. Another failure is that it can’t adequately staff its state health laboratory for 60 hours a week for six to eight weeks in a row in the case of an emergency.

Also Read: The States that Recovered Most (and Least) From the Recession

5. Hawaii
Score: 4
All-hazards preparedness funding: $6,818,950 (down 4.3%)
Pct. change in public health funding: 0.1%

Hawaii was by far the worst state in emergency operations coordinating capability. It took state officials 221 minutes to notify and immediately gather staff in the case of a public health crisis, more than three times longer than any other state in the country. Hawaii was also among one of just 14 states to not have enough staffing at state health labs to deal with a health disaster. Not all was bad for Hawaii, though. The state was just one of two to meet an HHS goal of immunizing 90% of infants between the ages of 19 and 35 months for whooping cough. The only state to perform better was Nebraska, with a 92.3% immunization rate.

4. Nevada
Score: 4
All-hazards preparedness funding: $10,105,858 (up 3.8%)
Pct. change in public health funding: -5.1%

Although Nevada’s all-hazards preparedness funding was up 3.8% in 2012 compared to the prior year, its public health funding fell more than 5%, the third straight year of decline. Nevada had the lowest reported rate of infants receiving immunization for whooping cough at just 75.2%, although the state had a lower incidence rate of the disease compared to the country as a whole. Like many states, Nevada lacks a complete climate change adaptation plan. However, Nevada did well in response time in the case of a public health crisis. It took just 14 minutes to notify and immediately gather staff in these cases, which is significantly faster than the majority of states.