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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Last month, MPHA’s Board voted to endorse the “Yes on 3” ballot campaign, which will be before Massachusetts voters on November 6th. A “Yes” vote on Question 3 will maintain civil rights protections for transgender individuals voted into law in Massachusetts in 2016.
MPHA grounds its support for the Yes on 3 campaign in the understanding that maintaining civil rights for transgender residents and visitors to our state is essential realizing MPHA’s mission to advance health equity and social justice in the Commonwealth.
Research shows that transgender people are far more likely to face violence than non-transgender people, including higher rates of murder, sexual assault, and suicide. These statistics are especially troubling for trans people of color and trans youth, two communities that experience heightened violence and discrimination. The continued trauma that transgender people would face when trying to navigate public spaces without the civil rights protections already codified in Massachusetts law will have lifelong impacts on their health and their communities.
Opponents of transgender rights have long used scare tactics to deny basic rights and freedom to transgender children and adults. They continue to use these scare tactics even though they have been proven false. But let’s be clear, it is discrimination against transgender individuals that is a threat to public health and safety. Acknowledging transgender people’s rights and protecting these rights increases public health and safety for all.
Massachusetts cannot fall backward in our fight against discrimination. The results of ballot question 3 will have long-term impacts on social justice in the Commonwealth and beyond. We hope our members and supporters will join us in supporting current law and civil rights protections by voting Yes on 3 in November.
Visit Freedom for All Massachusetts for more information.
On Wednesday, July 18th, the House and Senate released their state budget compromise for FY19. The budget compromise, known as the Conference Budget, is overall very strong in public health investment. It includes increased funding for the Bureau of Environmental Health and the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, level funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program and Mass in Motion Program, and increased funding for key social determinants of health including housing and transportation. It also includes language and funding for a new Office of Health Equity and funds environmental justice staff under the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
In addition, the Conference Budget includes language that will ensure the availability of MassHealth data about screening and interventions related to the social determinants of health (SDOH). This data is essential to understand the activities, successes, and challenges of ACOs and social service providers in responding to these needs. It will also allow the public to assess the availability of social services and identify any gaps that may exist by region, population, or service type.
MPHA is disappointed, however, that the Conference Budget did not include language establishing Massachusetts as a sanctuary state. MPHA endorsed the Safe Communities Act earlier this year because assuring all immigrants in Massachusetts that their rights will be protected and that they will be treated with dignity is important to the public health of all communities.
Read below for more detail on the FY19 Conference Budget.
This week the Senate is deliberating on the fiscal year 2019 Senate Ways and Means budget proposal. Now is the time to act to make sure that essential public health funding is included in the FY19 budget.
Please contact your Senator TODAY and urge her or him to co-sponsor the important amendments listed below. Don’t forget to mention why the program or programs you are calling about are important to you.
To find your Senator’s contact information or to find out who your State Senator is, click here.