Massachusetts Public Health Association

Serious Risks to Public Health and Safety Posed by State Budget – Please Contact Your Senator

The proposed Senate budget, released yesterday, poses serious risks to public health and safety.  Core public health protections which are already funded at dangerously low levels would receive additional cuts under the proposal.  This includes funding for environmental health, food protection, health care safety, and the State Lab and communicable disease control response.

Please join us in calling on the Senate to provide adequate funding to protect the public health.  A list of priority amendments are here (MPHA FY14 Senate Amendment Priorities) and are below.

Senators have until 3pm tomorrow, Friday May 17th, to sign onto these amendments as a co-sponsor.  You can find your Senator’s contact information here. If you don’t know who your Senator is, please click here.

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MPHA in the News: ‘Vulnerable road user’ bill aims for safer streets (Milford Daily News)

MILFORD Daily News
MAY 5, 2013

‘Vulnerable road user’ bill aims for safer streets

Image

By David Riley/Image by: Telegraph UK

Twenty-eight years ago, a driver struck Peter Brooks with a truck while he was riding his bike, leaving him with brain damage in the trauma center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for five days.

Brooks said he has since recovered completely and        remains an active cyclist, sitting on the board of directors for the Charles River Wheelmen, a club of some 1,200 riders.

“Life has to be lived,” he said of his return to biking. Read More

Job Posting-President/CEO at Harc, Inc.

Organization: HARC, Inc.

Job Title: President / CEO

Job Type: Full Time

Brief position summary:
HARC, Inc., headquartered in Hartford, Conn., is offering the opportunity to lead a highly respected multi-service human service organization with a strong sense of family.
Founded in 1951 by a small, committed group of parents of children with intellectual disability, HARC now provides services to approximately 1800 people with intellectual disability and their families annually. Its mission is to help people with intellectual disability and their families enjoy lives of quality, inclusion and dignity by providing support, education and advocacy.
The new leader must be prepared to sustain success in response to the ever changing environment within which HARC operates. At the same time, s/he will not lose sight of the past and will retain the essence of what has made the organization so successful. The next president /CEO will be a seasoned human services executive and a passionate advocate for the people HARC serves with an understanding of issues related to governmentally funded social services. S/he will have demonstrated success in balancing mission and budget, raising money from a variety of sources, forging credible and effective relationships, and inspiring multiple types of stakeholders to embrace and achieve a vision.
For more information, please go here :HARC position profile abstract FINAL

Salary: Commensurate with experience, within the framework of HARC’s operating budget

Contact person/apply to: www.tsne.org/jobs/harc

Application deadline date: search will remain open until the position is filled.

Organization’s Website address: www.harc-ct.org

MPHA Spring Awards Breakfast Coming Up on June 7th!

MPHA’s 11th annual awards breakfast, Our Health Our Future is just about a month away!  Join us on June 7th as we honor Barbara Ferrer, Andrew Balder, Steven Fischer and Lisa Renee Holderby-Fox for their leadership and commitment to public health.

For more information on tickets and sponsorship, visit our website: http://www.mphaweb.org/breakfast.htm or contact Kara Keenan at (857) 263-7072 ext. 113.

Save the Date! October 10, 2013-October 11, 2013! First National “Childhood Obesity in the Community” National Conference

The New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital will be hosting their first national conference Childhood Obesity in the Community: Turning Science Into Care on October 10th and 11th at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. This day and a half symposium brings together national obesity experts to share innovative, evidence-based strategies to combat childhood obesity.

More details to come….click for more information : Obesity Conference

Job Posting for Lamprey Health Care

Organization: Lamprey Health Care

Job Title: Chief Executive Officer

Job Type:  Full Time

Brief position summary:

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Job Posting for Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health

Organization:         Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Job Title:               Registrar of Vital Records and Statistics

Job Type:              Full Time

 Brief position summary:   The Registrar needs to be strong at relationship building. The Registrar is a problem solver whose decisions are at the nexus of a changing social environment resulting in new interpretations and new judicial or statutory requirements. It is critical that the Registrar be an effective communicator, as the Registrar will present to statewide professional audiences of varied backgrounds. The Registrar will advocate on behalf of the Registry with government agencies regarding policy, financial and IT concerns. The Registrar needs to multi-task to manage competing priorities. To complete these priority tasks, the Registrar will need to motivate people and effectively manage their efforts.  The Registrar should be effective at project management to oversee a multi-pronged effort to automate vital record registration and create a central database. The Registrar should monitor the national environment for upcoming changes to improve identity security and connect to electronic medical record systems.

 Salary:                  $48,478.04 to $118,278.12

Contact person/apply to:           Health Office of Human Resources
Dorothy White; Employment & Staffing
600 Washington Street, 7th Fl.
Boston, MA 02111
Fax 617-348-5509
Customer Service 1-800-850-6968
When applying for a position remember to include posting ID #     

 Application deadline date:          05-02-2013

 Organization’s Website address:         http://www.mass.gov/dph/

Massachusetts Affiliate leads fight for $60 million state health trust fund (The Nation’s Health)

THE NATION’S HEALTH
APRIL 23, 2013

Massachusetts Affiliate leads fight for $60 million state health trust fund

By Natalie McGill

After two years of building alliances with local elected officials and writing letters, the Massachusetts Public Health Association is enjoying the fruits of its labor: a pot of $60 million aimed at starting health and wellness programs across the state.

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Ask Your Representative to Support Public Health Funding

Next week, the House will debate the state budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1st. The budget proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee would lead to further cuts to the Department of Public Health, continued dismantling of primary prevention programs, and little to change the fraying infrastructure of protections that we all rely on every day.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Tobacco. Cuts would further reduce smoking prevention and cessation services. Where Massachusetts was once a national model, our program has been cut by nearly 70% in the last 4 years. These further cuts would occur at a time when we are about to raise tobacco taxes significantly.
  • Mass in Motion. State funding for Mass in Motion is proposed to be cut, which could lead to the loss of impactful programs in 14 communities with a total population of 1 million people.
  • Environmental Health. Our food protection program has only half the number of inspectors recommended by the FDA.
  • Health Care Quality. There is a 5 month backlog of complaints regarding health care facilities due to staffing shortages.

MPHA’s complete statement on the budget proposal is here.

If we speak up together in support of public health funding, we can make a difference.  Please contact your state representative this week and ask them to support budget amendments to restore funding for public health.

A list of MPHA priority amendments is below and can be downloaded here. In addition to amendments to address funding shortages, please ask your representative to support Rep. Lewis’ amendment (#131) to address the tax differential on cigars and smokeless tobacco as a way to reduce youth tobacco usage and to support increased and regular funding for the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund.

You can find your representative’s contact information here. If you don’t know who your representative is, please click here.

For additional information on these amendments or for other questions about state public health funding, please contact Maddie Ribble at mribble@mphaweb.org.

Thank you for your advocacy!

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MPHA House Budget Amendment Priorities

(Download this list here: MPHA FY14 House Amendment Priorities)

Top Priorities

Environmental Public Health Services (4510-0600)
Amendment #124 – Rep. Lewis at $4,391,414, Amendment #267 – Rep. Speliotis at $4,391,414
The Bureau of Environmental Health safeguards many of the most basic structures we rely on daily – the quality of the air we breathe, safety of the food we eat, cleanliness of the water we drink, and minimization of harmful exposures including pesticides and radiation. These programs – cut by 18% since FY09 – have been chronically underfunded.  This funding would allow for the hiring of 16.5 FTE inspectors, focused on food protection, indoor air quality, water quality, medical waste, and childhood lead poisoning.  Impacts of past cuts include:

  • The elimination of more than 50% of the food inspectors who conduct inspections of food manufacturers and wholesale establishments, a staffing level that is half of the federal FDA performance standard.  There has also been a significant reduction in monitoring and support for local board of health inspections of restaurants.  A report by the State Auditor in 2007 found severe deficiencies in food protection activities; current funding levels are below those at the time of the report’s release.
  • A significant backlog of requests for indoor air quality assessments at elementary and middle schools, as well as other public facilities with potentially-dangerous air quality due to mold and other contaminants.  There is typically a backlog of several dozen requests from across the state.

Health Care Safety and Quality (4510-0710) | Amendment #425 – Rep. Steven Walsh at $7,826,326
The Bureau of Health Care Quality and Improvement is central to the state’s goal of promoting health care cost containment and high quality care.  Cuts totaling 27% since FY09 have left serious gaps in capacity to inspect, license, and respond to complaints at health care facilities, as well as to perform new responsibilities mandated under the 2012 cost containment law. DPH currently licenses more than 6,000 health care facilities and handles approximately 14,000 consumer complaints each year. There is currently a 5 month backlog of complaints, which can jeopardize patient safety and result in uncoordinated inspections in which investigators are unaware of pending complaints against facilities.  This funding will allow for the hiring of 8 FTEs focused on facility inspections, compliance, and enforcement of quality standards.

Health Promotion & Disease Prevention (4513-1111) | Amendment #356 – Rep. Sánchez at $3,354,315
Funding is proposed to be cut by an additional 31%, which would result in a cumulative loss of 85% since FY09.  The cut would put $5.7 million in federal and private matching funds at risk.  This includes $5.2 million in lost federal funds for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening, leading to the elimination of screening services for 7,500 women. In addition, private matching funds toward the Mass in Motion municipal leadership grants could be lost, causing obesity prevention programs to no longer reach 1 million residents in 14 municipalities. These programs help keep residents healthy and control health care costs.

Addressing Tax Differential for Small Cigars and Smoking Tobacco and Increasing Funding for the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund | Amendment #131 – Rep. Lewis
Recent House and Senate revenue packages raised taxes significantly on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.  However, cigars and loose tobacco were subject to a much smaller increase, which creates a price incentive for youth to choose these products, especially the candy-flavored cigars that are heavily marketed to children.  This amendment would increase taxes on cigars and smoking tobacco, but would exempt premium cigars which do not pose significant risk to youth.  The additional revenue would be dedicated to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund to combat preventable health conditions and reduce health care costs.

Additional Priorities

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (4590-0300) | Amendment #645 – Rep. Hecht at $8,500,000
Funding is proposed to be cut by an additional 5%, which would result in a cumulative loss of 69% since FY09 – this in a year when the state will be generating increased revenue from tobacco taxes.  With the expected passage of a $1.00 cigarette tax increase, an estimated 25,000 current adult smokers will quit smoking.  Many will call the DPH’s QuitLine for help.  To meet the increased demand and to provide adequate support to smokers who wish to quit, DPH will need additional resources.  Additional resources are also needed to restore smoking cessation campaigns targeted to high-use populations, such as veterans and their families, people with low-incomes, and those with behavioral health diagnoses.  Funding will also be used to prevent youth use of tobacco products.  The tobacco industry continues to aggressively market new and inexpensive tobacco products (small flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco) popular with youth.  Restoring funding for tobacco cessation and prevention will help smokers quit and will help keep the next generation free of nicotine addiction and all of the health and cost consequences that it brings.

Registry of Vital Records Retained Revenue (4518-0200) | Amendment #725 – Rep. Garlick at $675,000
The House Ways and Means budget would cut allowable retained revenue by 21%. The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (RVRS) currently earns over $1.5 million of fee revenue from various services it provides relative to issuing certified copies of birth, marriage and death certificates. RVRS is currently authorized to retain $675,000 of that revenue for ongoing operations at the Registry.  The balance is deposited into the General Fund.  Twenty programs rely on the Vital Records systems to provide services, including daily data feeds supporting Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Newborn Metabolic Screening, a pregnancy initiative (PRAMS), the Immunization Registry, MassHealth enrollment, CDC, and the Social Security Administration.

State Laboratory and Communicable Disease Control (4516-1000)
Amendment #346 – Rep. Sánchez at $12,631,936, Amendment #544 – Rep. Smizik at $14,900,000
The State Lab is responsible for:

  • testing of samples for influenza, tuberculosis, salmonella, lead poisoning, bioterror agents, food and insect-borne diseases, and other hazards
  • routine surveillance and quality assurance of disease reporting by physicians, hospitals and laboratories
  • training in disease surveillance, reporting criteria, data quality, investigation, and control for local health departments
  • investigation of and intervention in response to disease outbreaks
  • helping local health departments respond to communicable disease threats

The Hinton Lab is comprised of 17 separate laboratories.  Since revelations about misconduct at the drug lab (now housed with the State Police) surfaced, the independent Association of Public Health Laboratories, as well as federal agencies, have conducted inspections and assessed the procedures and quality assurance protocols at the 17 remaining labs.  All have been found to be operating at high level of quality and fully up to professional standards.  The lab has been cut by 23% cut since FY09.

Public Health Critical Operations and Essential Services (4510-0100)
Amendment #333 – Rep. Sánchez at $18,756,508
This line item – cut 18% since FY09 – supports critical DPH services and staff across the Department, including emergency preparedness, environmental health assessments, implementation and enforcement of regulations, reducing disparities in health care, and monitoring and inspections of nursing homes, food safety, and water quality.  Additional capacity is needed to address the development and enforcement of legally mandated public health regulations, including new regulatory responsibilities for pharmacies and health professionals.

Statement on FY14 House Ways and Means Budget

The House Ways and Means Budget proposal for FY14, released Wednesday, provides level funding for the Department of Public Health (DPH).  However, when compared to the increased costs associated with providing the current level of programs and services, the real impact of the proposed budget is more than $18 million in cuts to community-based programs.

Primary prevention programs – including state funding for the Mass in Motion program, comprehensive care coordination, and tobacco programs – take another big hit.  The line items that fund these programs have been cut more than any other in the DPH budget (85% and 69% since FY09).   At a time when Massachusetts is focused on health care cost control and in a year when tobacco taxes are likely to be increased significantly, these cuts are extremely shortsighted and disappointing.

Line items that fund core public health infrastructure and regulatory functions – including inspections of health care facilities, pharmacies, food safety assurance, and response to infectious disease – generally receive a modest increase, but fall short of funding levels necessary to close critical safety gaps that expose our population to unacceptable levels of risk.  The one area that receives significant additional funding is the Board of Registration in Pharmacy, which is proposed to be increased by $1.1 million. This funding would allow for the hiring of new inspectors to conduct unannounced inspections of pharmacies.

The House budget assumes that new taxes passed in the House transportation bill earlier this week will be available for the FY14 budget, including increased taxes on cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco products.  While we applaud the tax increases on these harmful products (shown to have a direct impact on youth tobacco usage), it is disappointing that a portion of this new revenue is not specifically dedicated to public health and tobacco control.

On the whole, the House Ways and Means budget misses opportunities to re-invest in a distressed public health system. Increased funding for pharmacy inspections is sorely needed; however, we urge the House to not only address areas of crisis, but to act now to prevent future crises that may result from chronic underfunding of our public health infrastructure.

Debate will begin in the House on Monday, April 22nd.  We will be calling on the House to adopt amendments that will shore up essential services that all our residents rely on, address health care cost containment, and support a healthier population.  Stay tuned next week on what you can do to help strengthen our public health system.

MPHA will be focused on these priority areas that address primary prevention and core public health infrastructure:

  • Funding for the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention line item would be cut by more than $1 million (31%).  This line item has already been cut by a full 85% since FY09.  This funding supports the Mass in Motion municipal grant program that promotes healthy eating and active living in communities across the state, as well as a comprehensive care coordination program for low-income, high-risk women receiving care at community health centers.  The proposed funding level is below federal maintenance of effort requirements for federal care coordination funding; as a result, the proposed cut puts more than $5 million of federal matching funds at risk.
  • Funding for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation would be cut by nearly $200,000 (5%). This line item has already been cut by 69% since FY09.  As both the House and Senate consider raising more than $150 million from new tobacco taxes, it is unacceptable to simultaneously cut tobacco programs.  This cut will undermine local prevention efforts, as well as access to cessation programs.
  • We appreciate the $221,000 increase (6%) for Environmental Public Health Services, however, the programs funded by this line item have been chronically underfunded for too many years.  For instance, DPH currently employs fewer than half of the number of food inspectors recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration.  A report by the State Auditor in 2007 found “severe deficiencies” in food protection activities within the Commonwealth, primarily due to resource constraints.  Current funding levels are below those at the time of the report’s release.  In addition to food protection activities, there are serious capacity issues for indoor air quality assessments in schools and other public buildings; inspections of medical and biologic waste; and water quality and safety inspections of swimming beaches, public pools, and recreational camps.
  • Similarly, an increase of $630,000 for Health Care Safety and Quality is sorely needed, but insufficient to address gaps in capacity to inspect, license, and respond to complaints at health care facilities, as well as to perform new responsibilities mandated under the 2012 cost containment law. DPH currently licenses more than 6,000 health care facilities and handles approximately 14,000 consumer complaints each year. There is currently a 5 month backlog of complaints, which can jeopardize patient safety and result in uncoordinated inspections in which investigators are unaware of pending complaints against facilities.
  • Two core infrastructure programs, the State Laboratory and Communicable Disease Control and Critical Operations and Essential Services also receive modest increases (2% and 3% respectively) that do not address needed investments after years of cuts.  The State Lab (cut 21% since FY09) is comprised of 17 laboratories that are responsible for the testing of samples for influenza, tuberculosis, salmonella, lead poisoning, bioterror agents, food and insect-borne diseases; training in disease surveillance, reporting criteria, data quality, investigation, and control for local health departments; and helping local health departments respond to communicable disease threats.  The Critical Operations and Essential Services line item (cut 16% since FY09) supports services and staff across DPH, including emergency preparedness, environmental health assessments, implementation and enforcement of regulations, and reducing disparities in health care.

In addition, numerous other programs across DPH would be cut or eliminated:

  • Substance Abuse Step Down Services – 41% decrease
  • Youth Violence Prevention   – 33% decrease
  • Compulsive Gamblers Treatment  – 21% decrease
  • Early Intervention – 10% decrease
  • Teenage Pregnancy Prevention – 5% decrease
  • School Health Services – 3% decrease
  • Substance Abuse Jail Diversion Programs – eliminated

Several programs would receive increases over current year funding or level funding, though not all increases cover the higher cost of services from year to year:

  • Substance Abuse Services – 9% increase
  • Infection Prevention and Control – 7% increase
  • Universal Immunization Program – 3% increase
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program – 3% increase
  • Oral Health – 1% increase
  • Suicide Prevention – 1% increase
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Services – level funded

For additional information, please contact Maddie Ribble at mribble@mphaweb.org.

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