Funding that boosted Maine’s pandemic response may not be there for the next one

Public health spending is at a 10-year high in Maine after it and the rest of the country scrambled to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Those who depend on it fear any retrenchment would set back any response to the next pandemic.

States have seen billions of dollars in federal aid to fight the pandemic over the last two years. But Congress’ willingness to continue to spend on the pandemic is uncertain after Republicans balked at recent proposals, which could lead to a reduced federal response.

That is a problem that public health agencies have faced for years. In the decade ahead of 2020, state spending on public health dropped by 18 percent, according to an Associated Press and Kaiser Health News analysis. It left many agencies less prepared for the pandemic.

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