FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2014
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association
Prevention & Wellness Trust Awards Mark a Milestone in MA Health Reform
Link between clinic and community called essential to address health disparities, high costs
The Massachusetts Public Health Association applauded the release of the first awards from the $60 million Massachusetts Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund and called it a milestone in Massachusetts health reform.
“This funding addresses the health of the whole person and recognizes that the services and conditions in the community are equally important as what happens in the doctor’s office,” said Rebekah Gewirtz, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, which led the effort to create the Trust. “This funding will help Massachusetts combat health disparities and reduce preventable health conditions that are costly to our businesses, families, and Commonwealth.”
The awards, announced today by the Department of Public Health, will fund nine partnerships across the state – ranging from Boston to Pittsfield – to coordinate existing and new resources to combat tobacco use, pediatric asthma, hypertension, and falls among older adults. The nine partnerships have proposed programs that will serve a total of 978,000 people, with a focus on reducing health disparities based on race, ethnicity, income, and other factors.
Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, applauded the news. “Today’s announcement will lead to a healthier population, lower health care costs, and a better economic future for Massachusetts. The projects funded today will work to keep people healthy and productive, a proven way to reduce health spending. We congratulate DPH for this historic announcement, and look towards an expanded focus on community-based prevention of disease throughout Massachusetts,” she said.
The Prevention and Wellness Trust is the first of its kind in any state in the nation. It was created by the legislature as part of the 2012 Massachusetts health care payment reform law to address troubling facts that stand in the way of good health and fiscal stability:
- In Massachusetts, we spend nearly $70 billion on health care costs, yet rates of costly and preventable health conditions continue to rise, and health inequities based on race, income, and geography persist.
- Spending on chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension and asthma – many of which are preventable – currently makes up 75% of the state’s health care expenditures.
A broad coalition of health, civic, business, and labor leaders – led by the Massachusetts Public Health Association – pushed for the legislature to create the Trust.
The awardees announced today include: Barnstable County Department of Human Services, Berkshire Medical Center, Boston Public Health Commission, Holyoke Health Center, the City of Lynn, the City of New Bedford Health Department, the City of Worcester, Manet Community Health Center, and the Town of Hudson. According to the Department of Public Health, each grantee will receive up to $250,000 for a planning phase, and, as they demonstrate readiness, may receive $900,000-$1.5 million for each of the next three years for implementation. Additional information is available at http://www.mass.gov/PWTF.
About the Massachusetts Public Health Association
MPHA is the state’s leading voice for public health. MPHA is a private, non-profit statewide membership organization focused on advancing prevention and health equity. MPHA works to strengthen the voice and power of public health by engaging new constituencies, broadening understanding of public health, and developing grassroots leadership in order to improve laws, funding, and policies. Recent victories include the establishment of the nation’s first Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, the implementation of competitive school nutrition standards, and its leading role in expanding healthy transportation funding to support public transit, walking, and bicycling. MPHA was founded in 1879 and is a leading affiliate of the American Public Health Association. For more information visit www.MPHAweb.org.