June 4, 2020
RE “Built for This, C.D.C. Shows Flaws in Crisis” (front page, June 3)
To the Editor:
As former Epidemic Intelligence Service officers at the C.D.C. and former members of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, we believe that this article, while raising valid points about the C.D.C.’s need for culture change, misses the “elephant in the living room” — the underfunding of public health in the United States.
The C.D.C. is a leading international public health entity, its programs and projects drive health policy, and it responds to outbreaks of public health significance worldwide. Despite all of this, the agency, along with state and local health departments, has been underfunded and neglected for decades. The budget for public health is less than 3 percent the amount of money America spends on its multipayer health care system.
The C.D.C. must be funded appropriately, charged with leading the Covid-19 response and also with addressing the health inequities unmasked by this global pandemic. Additionally, a single-payer health care system would make a significant dent in these inequities, both through direct provision of necessary health care without financial barriers and through availability of much richer data sets from which to analyze health trends and needs.
SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated the need for major changes in public health and health care services, but without financial support, these changes cannot be made. If the children of the United States are to have a healthy future, our budgets must reflect that priority.