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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 11:51am

Public Health Cuts Feared

Public Health Advocates worry about state budget cuts and fear that Georgians may not get the care they need.

Georgia’s population grew by 20 % over the past decade. At the same time, advocates say, state funding for public health decreased by 21% per Georgian.

That’s why the Georgia Public Health Association is launching a statewide campaign to raise awareness that public health needs state funds.

"Georgian’s shouldn’t be the last to know about these cuts and what they mean," says the association's director Bob Stolarick.

"They’ll know when they get school physicals and the line is longer. They will know when they go to get immunization to the board of health or the health department and possibly there’s a vaccine shortage," he says.

Stolarick says Georgia is also experiencing a shortage of public health nurses, because the private health sector pays much better

“The starting pay for a public health staff nurse in Georgia is $36,753. While Georgians market starting rate is upward of $61,000," he says.

"Some nurses have 2 jobs, some qualify for food stamps. Makes recruiting a real challenge.”

There is also worry that the public health system could be stretched further if congress decides not to fully fund Medicaid for the entire year.