An annual survey of states’ abilities to deal with diseases, disasters, and bioterrorism finds Missouri is the top half of the states.  But that’s not much of a distinction.

The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are rating each state on ten indicators of strengths and vulnerabilities.  Missouri scores on six of the ten.  Thirty-five states score on six or fewer.  

The Trust’s Deputy Director, Rich Hamburg, sees some troubling shortcomings, among them Missouri’s failure to reach the federal guidelines for whooping cough vaccinations.  The foundation also is critical of Missouri for one of only thirteen states requiring co-pays by Medicaid recipients when they get flu shots, a situation that discourages people from being vaccinated. 

The study compliments Missouri for the strength of its public health laboratories, which Hamburg calls a “perfect example of public health emergency preparedness.”

Countering that, though, is a lack of a preparedness plan for extreme weather and the state’s continued cutting of funding for public health programs.  The funds have been reduced for three years in a row.

Audio: Hamburg interview 18:03