Victories for Public Health in the FY15 Conference Committee Budget

Earlier this week, the legislature sent a budget for fiscal year 2015 to Governor Patrick.  The budget would boost overall funding for community-based public health programs by about 9% or $28 million, with a significant portion of the increase targeted to new and expanded programs for substance abuse prevention and treatment.

MPHA is pleased to have achieved several victories in the budget, including:

  • $250,000 dedicated to the Mass in Motion program, a successful municipal grant program that creates neighborhood environments that make it easier to eat healthy and be physically active.  Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Gailanne Cariddi led the charge on this effort.
  • $1 million allocation to begin addressing the capital needs at the State Public Health Laboratory, which is housed in a facility that limits innovation and expansion. We thank Senator John Keenan, Senator Ken Donnelly, Representative Garrett Bradley, and Representative Jeffrey Sanchez for their leadership on these crucial services.
  • Important technical fixes to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund which otherwise could have hampered the work of the Trust. We thank Senator Jason Lewis, Representative Jon Hecht, and Representative Jen Benson for their support on this effort.

Substance abuse is a hallmark focus of the FY15 budget.  The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at DPH would receive an increase of $15 million in the budget, and a new $1 million line item is proposed to improve access to Narcan in order to reverse overdoses.  The budget also dedicates additional funds for the prescription drug monitoring program which seeks to address prescription drug misuse, abuse and diversion.

Governor Patrick has 10 days to review the budget and has the authority to veto or reduce funding for individual lines items within the budget.

The budget also includes increased funding for:

  • Youth At-Risk programs ($550,000 or 15% increase)
  • Oral Health ($554,000 or 38% increase)
  • Community Health Centers ($678,000 or 79% increase)

For the first time, funding is allocated for a pubic health evaluation grant program to quantify the impacts of state funded programs on short and long term health outcomes and costs.

We are disappointed in a few shortsighted cuts in the budget, including:

  • Environmental Public Health Services ($160,000 or 3.5% cut).  This line items support food protection, indoor air quality, and water quality, among other programs.
  • The DPH Critical Operations and Essential Services line item ($1.175 million or 5.5% cut).  This line item supports program across DPH, including regulatory oversight.
  • Youth Violence Prevention ($178,000 or 12% cut).

 

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