Massachusetts Public Health Association

Press Release: In a Major Step Backwards, Legislature Abandons Effective Prevention Programs

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:

  • Continued cost-effectiveness and return on investment of PWTF interventions
  • Increasing intervention reach in PWTF communities
  • Continued success in controlled hypertension
  • Higher rates of blood pressure screening and controlled hypertension among populations with co-morbidities
  • Increasingly positive changes in blood pressure among hypertensives
  • Reductions in blood pressure across age levels and racial/ethnic groups
  • Further improvements in preventing CVD [cardiovascular disease] events

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.”



Take action today for equity & public health in marijuana policy

The Massachusetts House of Representatives will be debating amendments to the recreational marijuana bill today. The Senate will follow with debate tomorrow, Thursday, June 22nd.

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.

  • Please ask your Representative to support amendments 1, 39, & 41 to promote equity and amendments 115 and 67 for youth prevention and public health data collection.
  • Please ask your Senator to support amendments 76, 102, & 104 to promote equity and amendments 47, 52, 54, & 60 for youth prevention.

Click here for full list and more information on priority marijuana amendments.

Click here for your Representative and Senator’s contact information. If you don’t know who your Representative and Senator are, click here to find out.

Amendments to the House Bill

Promote Equity and Address Racial Disparities
  1. Expunge criminal records for nonviolent non-trafficking marijuana offenses, Amendment 1 by Representative Vega. Allows for the expungement of criminal records for nonviolent non-trafficking marijuana offenses.
  2. Promote Equity in Recreational Marijuana Industry, Amendments 39 & 41 by Rep. Holmes. 39 requires prospective marijuana businesses to promote representation of people of color and women in management teams and among industry suppliers and service providers. 41 requires the Cannabis Control Commission to promote full participation in the regulated marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.

Youth Use Prevention & Public Health Data Collection
  1. Dedicate Funding for Youth Use Prevention, Amendment 115 by Rep. Barber. Dedicated minimum funding of $10m to evidence based child and adolescent youth substance use prevention programs.
  2. Ensure Robust Public Health Data Collection and Analysis, Amendment 67 by Rep. Kane. Instructs the Cannabis Control Commission to create a research agenda to and to report annually in order to understand the public health, racial equity, and public safety impacts of marijuana legalization.

Amendments to the Senate Bill

Promote Equity and Address Racial Disparities

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.

Youth Use Prevention 
  1. Dedicate Funding for Youth Prevention, Amendment 60 by Sen. Lewis. Dedicates 20% of revenue after implementation costs for youth substance use education and prevention.
  2. Prohibit Marijuana Advertising to Children, Amendment 54 by Senator Lewis. Prohibits marijuana advertising when children are expected to comprise 15% or more of the audience, consistent with recommendations from the Institute of Medicine on marketing of alcohol that could impact children.
  3. Enact Strong Labeling and Packaging for Marijuana Edibles, Amendments 47 & 52 by Sen. Lewis. Provide strong packaging and labeling standards to prevent accidental ingestion of edibles by children and to provide transparent information for adults.

Last Chance to Support Public Health Funding in the FY18 Budget

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:

  • Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF): SENATE budget sections 70 and 94.
  • Massachusetts Food Trust Program: SENATE funding (within 7007-0300).
  • SNAP Gap Common App: SENATE language for a common application for SNAP (food assistance) and other public benefits (4000-0328).
  • Mass-in-Motion: HOUSE funding and SENATE language for not less than the amount expended in FY17 and $4,010,977 in overall line item funding (within 4513-1111).
  • Bureau of Substance Abuse Services: HOUSE funding at $133,750,888 (4512-0200).
  • Public Health Data Linkages: SENATE budget section 99.

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.



Chairwoman Karen Spilka
Vice Chairman Sal DiDomenico
Senator Vinny deMacedo


Chairman Brian Dempsey
Vice Chairman Stephen Kulik
Representative Todd Smola


Press Release: Advocates Call Out Minuscule Cost to Insurers to Protect State’s First-in-the-Nation Prevention Trust

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   

May 22, 2017
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, 617-697-2107,

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

Action Alert: Call Your Senator Today About Key Programs in the Senate Budget

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.

If you don’t know who your State Senator is, click here. For your Senator’s contact information, click here.

Let us know that you took action! Send a quick email to MPHA Field Director Andrea Freeman to let us know you took action for public health funding in the Senate budget. Read More

Press Release: Massachusetts Public Health Association Applauds Inclusion of Food Access Funding in Governor’s Capital Plan

May 11, 2017
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, 617-697-2107

Massachusetts Public Health Association Applauds Inclusion of Food Access Funding in Governor’s Capital Plan

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

MPHA Organizational Member Spotlight: The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs

The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s (MA YMCAs) is a longstanding partner of MPHA, and was among the inaugural group of organizations that joined MPHA’s Organizational Membership program in 2013.

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.

Read More

2.8 Million Residents Lack Adequate Access to Healthy Food, Endure Economic Burden

Click to enlarge

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.

Read More

MPHA Co-Hosts Policy Assembly in Springfield, MA

Attendees participate an a group strategy session at the 2017 Policy Assembly in Springfield

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.

Read More

What our Health Equity Champions Mean to the Communities they Serve

By now you are familiar with the names of this year’s MPHA Health Equity Champions. We asked colleagues of our Spring Awards Breakfast awardees to share a more intimate perspective on what makes these individuals extraordinary in the public health space. Click here to reserve tickets and for more information on the event.

Deborah Klein Walker, Paul Revere Awardee

Deborah Klein Walker, Paul Revere Awardee

“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

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