Last month, the Massachusetts Health Council released its 2017 Common Health for the Commonwealth: Report on Preventable Conditions and Social Determinants of Health (Report) which identifies key public health areas that require action in order to reduce health inequity and improve overall health in the state. While the report states that Massachusetts is a leader in providing access to health coverage and a low poverty rate, it also illustrates that race and income continue to impact the social determinants of health, creating stark health disparities across the Commonwealth. To address these disparities, the Report recommends many policy solutions that align with MPHA’s policy priorities, including policies designed to increase access to healthy foods, affordable housing, and fair income and prevent chronic health conditions and substance use disorder.
Giving the policy perspective in the income and poverty section of the report, MPHA Executive Director Rebekah Gewirtz recommends policies that address the root cause of health disparities. Specifically, she advocates for the release of authorized funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust, which will expand healthy food retailers in low and moderate income communities, for increasing the minimum wage and ensuring enrollment of eligible individuals in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program to ensure that low-income communities have access to the nutrition they need.