Action Alert: Ask your Rep. & Senator to co-sponsor health equity legislation

Thank you to everyone who reached out to your Senator and Representative last month! We had great success during the cosponsorship drive–showing strong support from the legislature for our priority bills.

There’s a lot more to do to make sure these bills make it past the finish line this session. Stay tuned to learn how you can help!

Now is a critical time to take action for health equity in the Commonwealth. It is the start of a new legislative session and by January 18, 2019, Massachusetts legislators filed more than 5,000 new bills that will be considered over the next two years.

Please take a few minutes this week to reach out to your Representative and Senator by phone, email, or in person and ask them to co-sponsor these five bills that will improve public health in your community. 

To find your representatives’ contact information or to find out who your representatives are, click here.

Please let us know that you took action by emailing MPHA Field Director Andrea Freeman at: The deadline to call about co-sponsorship is Thursday, January 31st.

Click here to download the one-page list of MPHA’s 2019 priority bills.

Please ask your Representative and Senator to co-sponsor the following legislation: 

Reauthorizing the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF) (SD916/HD2182) by Senators Lewis, Chandler and
Welch & Representatives Vega and Chan.

People’s health is influenced primarily by the conditions where they live, work, and play. Yet, we spend nearly $60 billion on health care in Massachusetts, primarily to treat people after they’re sick. PWTF is the first large scale initiative that invests in evidence-based community strategies to prevent illness and reduce health inequities. Between 2014-2018, PWTF funded regional partnerships to address childhood asthma, falls among older adults, hypertension, and tobacco use. An independent evaluator found that these programs improved health outcomes and controlled costs. This bill funds PWTF through a combination of marijuana revenue (passed in the House in 2018) and a modest assessment on health insurers (passed in 2012).

Establishing the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program to Strengthen our Local Health System (SD922/HD2682) by Representatives Kane and Garlick and Senator Lewis.

Spread across 351 municipal health departments, the Massachusetts local health system faces significant structural and financial challenges meeting responsibilities under current law to safeguard our food, water, and air quality; ensure safe and healthy housing conditions; and control communicable diseases. The SAPHE Act will advance the recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health by increasing training opportunities, incentivizing sharing of services across municipalities to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and laying the groundwork to establish 21st century local public health standards for Massachusetts.

Modernizing Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (SD2085/HD2563) by Senator Cyr and Representative Scaccia.

Childhood lead poisoning can cause irreversible neurological damage; it disproportionately impacts low income kids and kids of color in Gateway Cities and Boston. Current funding is insufficient to meet statutory requirements to prevent and respond to cases of childhood lead poisoning – including providing family case management, housing inspections, and code enforcement to eliminate lead hazards. This bill will modestly increase licensing fees (in most cases by $10-25) which have not been updated since they were established more than 25 years ago. The bill also increases tax credits for lead abatement and increases penalties for housing discrimination.

Close the SNAP Gap and Create a Common Application Portal (SD1501/HD791) by Sen. DiDomenico and Rep. Livingstone.

The SNAP Gap refers to the over 740,000 people who are receiving MassHealth and likely eligible for SNAP (food assistance), but aren’t receiving benefits. This bill will allow low-income households to apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time, and it directs the Executive Office of Health & Human Services to develop a common application portal for all needs-based safety-net benefits. This will help more residents meet their basic needs, reduce duplicate data collection, and increase efficiency of state government.

Sustaining the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) (SD1106/HD1083) by Rep. Mark and Sen. Gobi.

The Healthy Incentives Program, or HIP, doubles SNAP (food assistance) recipients’ purchasing power to buy fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers, improving health outcomes for low-income families and increasing sales for local farms. This bill codifies the existing program into law, creating a stronger framework for the program’s long-term sustainability. SNAP sales at farm retailers increased by 600% – to $8.3m – from 2016 to 2017, thanks to HIP.

For more information, contact Maddie Ribble at:

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