July 7, 2017
For Immediate Release
Contact: Maddie Ribble: 617-697-2107
In a Major Step Backwards, Legislature Abandons Effective Prevention Programs
Sicker People, Higher Health Care Costs, Laid off Community Health Workers to Result; Updated Evaluation Report Confirms Impacts On Health Outcomes And Costs
The FY18 Budget Conference Committee Report, released this morning, effectively eliminates the state’s first-in-the-nation Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF), an innovative $60 million initiative established in 2012.
“To all of the Commonwealth’s residents, health care providers, and community leaders who have joined forces to tackle the root causes of poor health, glaring health inequities, and high health care costs, today’s decision is a major blow,” said Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy for the Massachusetts Public Health Association.
Funding for the program will run out by the end of the calendar year, shuttering nine regional partnerships that have provided effective services to high risk kids, seniors, and adults over the last four years.
“Walking away from this program will have clear and immediate impacts,” said Ribble. “It will lead to sicker kids and seniors, higher health care costs, and skilled community health workers without a job. And, it will do nothing to change the glaring health inequities across race and income that plague our state.”
And an independent evaluation released in January from Harvard Catalyst found strong impacts on health outcomes, cost effectiveness, and systems change – and recommended further investment. An updated version of the evaluation report, using data collected since January, was released today and found even stronger program impacts. The updated report concludes that “PWTF appears to be a very sound investment from the point of view of improving outcomes and controlling costs.” Key findings of the updated report include:
A bipartisan majority of both the House and the Senate – more than 120 legislators in total – supported a proposal to continue the program’s work, and a provision was included the Senate budget to continue the Trust Fund by closing a tax loophole on cheap flavored cigars that are marketed to children. The Senate budget provision was supported by the state’s major health care provider associations, including the MA Health and Hospitals Association, the MA League of Community Health Centers, and the MA Medical Society, among others.
An advisory board appointed by the Governor, representing business, insurer, hospital, academic, and other partners, unanimously recommended further investment.
A standalone bill is pending before the Public Health Committee and could represent another vehicle to continue the work of the Trust Fund. “We urge the legislative leadership to reconsider the decision to dismantle this effective health program,” said Ribble. “There is still a short window to save these disease prevention services for the people who depend on them by moving a bill through the committee process.”
Now is the time to act to ensure that recreational marijuana policy in Massachusetts addresses racial inequities in marijuana prohibition and enforcement and that necessary public health protections, such as evidence-based youth use prevention and intervention programs, are included in the Commonwealth’s recreational marijuana law.
Please call your Representative and Senator today, as soon as possible.
Expunge Criminal Records, Amendment 76 by Sen. Boncore. Allows for the expungement of criminal records for nonviolent non-trafficking marijuana offenses.
Promote Equity in the Marijuana Industry, Amendments 102 & 104 by Sen. Forry. 104 Instructs the Cannabis Control Commission to promote and encourage full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed. 102 dedicates funds to technical assistance and mentoring to these communities.
The FY18 state budget is now in its final stage. The legislature recently appointed a six member Conference Committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget and to produce a final budget to be sent to the Governor before July 1st.
We recently sent a letter to the Conference Committee requesting support for our core public health needs, but we need your voice too!
In order to maintain a strong public health system in the Commonwealth, please call your legislators and ask them to contact the Conference Committee members below, asking them to support the following budget requests:
You can reference our letter below (and linked here) for more details, including line item numbers and funding levels.
Don’t know who your elected officials are? Click, here. Find your representatives’ contact info, here.
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Chairwoman Karen Spilka
Vice Chairman Sal DiDomenico
Senator Vinny deMacedo
Chairman Brian Dempsey
Vice Chairman Stephen Kulik
Representative Todd Smola
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2017
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, 617-697-2107, firstname.lastname@example.org
With Deadline Looming 39 Days Away, Senate Faces Decision on Dismantling Fund
With just 39 days away from the sunset date on the Massachusetts Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, Senators this week face a decision about whether to dismantle the first-in-the-nation program.
An amendment to the Senate budget, amendment #529 by Senators Lewis, Chandler, and Welch, would protect the Prevention Trust. Inaction on this amendment would almost certainly mean that successful prevention programs available to nearly one million residents would be shuttered by the end of the year.
“The Prevention Trust must remain a central tenet of our health reform efforts – we can’t retreat now,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “Our health system delivers top notch clinical care – the Prevention Trust allows us to extend that care beyond the clinic walls into our schools, senior centers, and neighborhoods, to pursue prevention so that we can keep people healthy before they need expensive medical care which will help control healthcare costs for the people of Massachusetts.” Read More
Next week the Senate will begin deliberations on the fiscal year 2018 Senate Ways and Means budget proposal. Now is the time to act to make sure that essential public health funding is included in the FY18 budget.
Please contact your Senator TODAY and urge him or her 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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2017
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, 617-697-2107
Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Public Health Association applauds Governor Baker for inclusion of $1 million in funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program in the FY18 Capital Spending Plan released this afternoon:
Maddie Ribble, Policy Director at the Massachusetts Public Health Association said: “Finding a place to buy healthy, affordable food nearby is a problem faced by far too many Massachusetts residents – negatively impacting quality of life, health, and job opportunities in urban and rural communities across the Commonwealth. Governor Baker’s action today to invest $1 million in capital funds to the Food Trust Program is a crucial down payment to solving this problem and creating a healthier and more equitable Massachusetts. We thank the Governor, Secretary Lepore, and Secretary Ash for their leadership in tackling this issue head on, and we look forward to partnering with the Administration to fulfill the promise of this important new program.” Read More
Massachusetts YMCAs serve 1.3 million people across the Commonwealth. The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, Inc. works with more than 410 YMCA’s to promote and support centers in reaching children and teens with a wide range of activities designed to help youth achieve their potential and position them for success in their adult lives.
MPHA recently released new data which reveals that lack of available grocery stores impacts 2.8 million residents in Massachusetts, including more than 700,000 children and 523,000 seniors. This lack of grocery access has the greatest effect in small rural towns and Massachusetts Gateway Cities, including Chelsea, Springfield, and Taunton, the three cities with the highest percentage of residents lacking grocery access in the Commonwealth. Limited access to grocery stores is a pressing public health issue as lack of access to healthy foods has been linked to increased risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
On April 26, 2017, more than fifty health equity advocates from Western MA gathered in Springfield, MA, to gain a better understanding of several statewide policy issues and how to strategically advocate for them. In a pre-assembly poll, participants conveyed that they wanted to better understand the process for passing bills and getting funds in the state budget, so MPHA gave special attention to conveying the timelines and steps involved.
Participants also spent time at the Assembly reading about specific bills and budget line items, followed by small group strategy sessions to identify the key decision-makers, timing, method, message, and messengers to influence policy makers. Some small-group discussions also focused on how to involve more people from low-income communities and communities of color in advocacy issues.
“It was a personal joy and a professional obligation to nominate Debbie Walker for the Paul Revere Award. I will come back to that word, ‘obligation.’ First, the joy. I have known Debbie since I was assigned to her as an academic advisee when she was on the Maternal and Child Health faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health. From the start, she has been a mentor, a role model, an adviser, occasionally a co-conspirator and always a friend. She was clearly on her way to becoming a Big Macher, as we say in Jewish, even in those early days. But she has always been the most accessible of Big Machers.
The obligation I mentioned is not to Debbie, although I owe her much. Rather it is to public health. I worked with Debbie again at the Department of Public, and under her leadership we were at the forefront of family centered care for children with special health care needs, smoking prevention and cessation, universal coverage for pregnancy care, life span, person-centered systems of care for individual with disabilities, and on and on. The drive to be a trailblazer in public health has characterized Debbie’s work throughout her career, and is formed by her commitment to public health as a fundamental responsibility of any society to its people, and to public health systems as the means through which that duty is fulfilled. In honoring Debbie, I feel we all acknowledge how important that commitment is, and implicitly pledge to be part of fulfilling it.” – Deborah Allen, Director, Child, Adolescent and Family Health at Boston Public Health Commission