State Public Health Funding in Arkansas Decreased in 2021 Despite Pandemic

December 22, 2022


Elizabeth (Izzy) Montgomery, MPA
Policy Analyst

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State public health funding in Arkansas continued to decrease in 2021 despite ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent analysis by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) of fiscal year 2021 data collected by Trust for America’s Health.

Arkansas’s public health spending of $43 per person in state funds was higher than the median state funding rate ($37 per person) among 45 states and the District of Columbia in 2021. The range of spending between states is broad, with the District of Columbia ranked first in spending with $371 per person and Missouri ranked last with $7 per person. The District of Columbia’s per-person spending is more than twice as high as that of New Mexico, the state with the second-highest spending rate of $159 per person. Missouri’s last-ranked rate of $7 per person has remained unchanged since 2019.

According to the State Health Compare tool, Arkansas has averaged between $40 and $50 in per-person public health state funding commitments since 2005. However, the state’s commitment in 2021 was less than it was in 2005, when Arkansas spent $51 per person. If funding levels from 2005 kept pace with standard inflation, the per-capita spending rate in 2021 would be approximately $68.

Even prior to the pandemic, public health was chronically underfunded in the U.S. According to SHADAC’s analysis, the U.S. would need to invest an additional $13 per person (totaling $4.5 billion) annually to fully support needed public health activities.

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