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The effects on population health status of using dedicated property taxes to fund local public health agencies

Author(s): Honoré Peggy | Fos Peter | Wang Xueyuan | Moonesinghe Ramal

Journal: BMC Public Health
ISSN 1471-2458

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 471;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background In the United States, a dedicated property tax describes the legal authority given to a local jurisdiction to levy and collect a tax for a specific purpose. We investigated for an association of locally dedicated property taxes to fund local public health agencies and improved health status in the eight states designated as the Mississippi Delta Region. Methods We analyzed the difference in health outcomes of counties with and without a dedicated public health tax after adjusting for a set of control variables using regression models for county level data from 720 counties of the Mississippi Delta Region. Results Levying a dedicated public health tax for counties with per capita income above $28,000 is associated with improved health outcomes of those counties when compared to counties without a dedicated property tax for public health. Alternatively, levying a dedicated property tax in counties with lower per capita income is associated with poor health outcomes. Conclusions There are both positive and negative consequences of using dedicated property taxes to fund public health. Policymakers should carefully examine both the positive association of improved health outcomes and negative impact of taxation on poor populations before authorizing the use of dedicated local property tax levies to fund public health agencies.
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