After a tour of the state laboratory, House Democrats met April 28 to call on Republicans to restore funding to emergency health care programs to help the state combat the spread of diseases such as Swine Flu.
"We believe that the cuts made in the fiscal 2009 budget are now seriously affecting the state's ability to deal with crisis such as the Swine Flu," said Rep. Chad Campbell, a Democrat from Phoenix. "We need to make sure that we restore this funding in the upcoming fiscal year."
The fiscal 2009 budget fix approved in January eliminated the state's Health Crisis Fund, which has been relied upon to curb the spread of measles outbreaks, maintain funding for veterans' hospitals and pay for heart disease-prevention efforts.
The cut saved the state $500,000, but Campbell and other House Democrats said the reduction will jeopardize the state's public safety.
"What we have done is effectively tie the hands of the Department of Health Service and limited their ability to respond effectively to a public health crisis," Campbell said.
The fiscal 2010 budget proposal released by Democrats called for additional funding for the state's 2-1-1 program, a website and call center intended to provide up-to-date information about the spread of contagious diseases. But the Democratic proposal did not seek to restore the funding to the Health Crisis Fund.
The Swine Flu is caused by an influenza virus commonly found in pigs. The virus has been a concern for individuals that work closely with livestock for years, but a mutation in one strain of the virus has enabled to disease to spread easily among humans.
Outbreaks of the flu were first detected in Mexico, where there have been seven confirmed deaths as a result of the disease. More than 150 individuals worldwide have died from what is believed to be a strain of the swine flu.
There has been only one confirmed case of the disease in Arizona.
Officials at ADHS have responded to the threat of a pandemic by shifting money from other department programs to cover testing and prevention efforts.