Hundreds of Municipal, Health, and Civic Leaders Call on Legislature To Reauthorize Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund

This morning, a coalition of over 200 civic leaders delivered a letter to Massachusetts legislative leaders urging them to reauthorize the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF) before it expires in June 2017.

The Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF) was established by the legislature in 2012 as part of Chapter 224 and is a key part of our state’s multi-pronged approach to health reform. The program invests in evidence-based community interventions that help to keep residents healthy and safe. PWTF – the first program of its kind in the country – has been recognized as a national model by other states, national health care and public health organizations, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ensuring equitable health outcomes for all populations is the most important goal of public health and health care,” said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, House chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Prioritizing prevention at the community level is fundamental to achieving this goal.”

The letter highlights the impact of preventable health conditions – such as asthma and diabetes – on shorter lives, lower quality of life, reduced workplace productivity, and missed school days, which hamper children’s educational achievement. The signers of the letters assert that without a large-scale focus on addressing underlying causes of poor health – such as PWTF – ongoing health care transformation efforts cannot be successful.

“PWTF is transforming how we deliver care in Quincy and Weymouth,” said Cynthia Sierra, CEO of Manet Community Health Center. “Through PWTF we are able to better identify and respond to the social and environmental factors that compromise health status in primary care and in the community.”

“I’ve seen the impact of the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund firsthand for seniors and other residents who live in my district,” said Representative Kate Hogan, House chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the House to promote this important work throughout the state in the years ahead.”

“I’ve been pleased to serve on the Prevention and Wellness Advisory Board that helps steer and oversee PWTF,” said Senator James Welch, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I’ve been impressed with the progress and impact I’ve seen, and I’m eager to explore opportunities with my colleagues to keep this important work moving forward.”

The signatories on the letter include:

  • Municipal leaders, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Quincy Mayor Tom Koch, Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, Worcester Town Manager Ed Augustus, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Lynn Mayor Judith Kennedy, and North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright.
  • Health policy leaders, including Massachusetts Public Health Association, Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, Health Care For All, Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Health Council, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), Massachusetts Councils on Aging, American Heart/Stroke Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, and Massachusetts Alliance of YMCAs.
  • Business, labor, and community development leaders, including 1199SEIU, The Boston Foundation, Alliance for Business Leadership, South Shore Workforce Investment Board, Metro South Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), and Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
  • Local social service and health providers, including South Shore Health System, Bay State Community Services, Revere CARES, MetroWest YMCA, Holyoke Medical Center, Berkshire Health System, Beth Israel Deaconess-Milton, UMass Memorial Healthcare, Neponset Health Center, South Shore Elder Services, the Latino Health Insurance Program, YMCA Cape Cod, Berkshire County YMCA, Edward M. Kennedy Health Center, Ethos, Greater Lynn Senior Services, and Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center.

PWTF-supported services are available to nearly one million Massachusetts residents who live in all regions of the state. One of the families benefitting from PWTF is Arnetta and Carl Baty, a couple in their 60s from Dorchester. Arnetta experienced 10 falls in the last year, threatening her health and enacting a high cost to the health care system. Through PWTF, the Batys participated in a home safety assessment, received home improvements to reduce the risk of falls, and learned about classes to improve strength and balance. (Read their story here.) Another is 7-year old Kailisa of Boston, who had five critical care hospitalizations due to asthma, the longest lasting nine days. Kailisa has benefitted from PWTF providing direct linkages between the people who matter most in her life – her family, her elementary school, and her providers at Codman Square Health Center – all in the effort to control her asthma. (Read her story here.)

“I’m proud that Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to establish a program like this,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “It’s up to us to keep this important work going and ensure that prevention remains a central tenet of our health reform efforts.”

“All residents of Massachusetts should have opportunities for good health no matter what their background or zip code,” said Rebekah Gewirtz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “In 2012, more than 100 legislators came together with a large coalition of health, community, and municipal leaders to take an important step toward this vision through the creation of the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund. It’s vital that we keep this vision and this program alive in 2017 and beyond.”
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Read: Open Letter to Massachusetts Legislative Leaders

Read Full Press Release – PWTF Reauthorization Joint Letter

Read Mayors Among Coalition Seeking to Extend Wellness Trust Fund – State House News, October 27, 2016