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.
MILFORD Daily News
MAY 5, 2013
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
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.
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
THE NATION’S HEALTH
APRIL 23, 2013
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.
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:
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.
For additional information on these amendments or for other questions about state public health funding, please contact Maddie Ribble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your advocacy!
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(Download this list here: MPHA FY14 House Amendment 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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
In addition, numerous other programs across DPH would be cut or 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:
For additional information, please contact Maddie Ribble at email@example.com.
THE SUNDAY ENTERPRISE
MARCH 17, 2013
Good transportation can be a prescription for good health
By Renee M. Johnson and Toby Fisher
BROCKTON — We know that transportation is about access to jobs and housing, about economic competitiveness, about convenience and quality of life, and about our environment.
Transportation is also about our health. Our transportation system – the roadways, bridges, regional transit systems, the MBTA, sidewalks and bike lanes across the commonwealth – can have a profound impact on our health that we seldom pause to consider. Read More
On Monday, March 25, MPHA and our allies testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation to ask them to include the language of the Active Streets Bill (sponsored by Rep. Jason Lewis and Sen. Harriette Chandler) in the larger transportation bond bill that will fiance a statewide transportation capital investment plan. The Active Streets Bill would create a program encourage and support cities and towns across Massachusetts to routinely include complete streets design elements in locally funded road projects.
As part of the hearing, we delivered a letter signed by two dozen organizations in support of the Active Streets Bill: Active Streets Bond Bill Sign-on Letter 3.25.13. Click here to read MPHA’s testimony: mpha-testimony-transpo-bond-bill-3-25-13.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of complete streets for health, economic development, and the environment.
Left: Lee Hartman, Director of Planning for the Town of Plymouth and Andrea Holleran, Vice President of External Affairs at Jordan Hospital testify about supporting complete streets in Plymouth. Right: Jim Tazza of Saugus, President of Bike to the Sea, testifies about improving bikeways in Massachusetts
Gerry Powers of the Worcester Food and Active Living Policy Council and Walk Bike Worcester also provided testimony: Gerry Powers Testimony_Joint committee on transportation testimony 3.25.13.
WBUR CommonHealth Blog
MARCH 26, 2013
Boston’s million-pound goal looks like a losing battle, but…
By Carey Goldberg/Co-host of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog
Boston’s battle to lose is looking, at the moment, like a losing battle. That is to say, Mayor Thomas Menino’s one-year goal of a million collectively shed pounds by late next month is looking exceedingly distant. As the Boston Globe declares in this feature story by lifestyle reporter Beth Teitell:
So far we’ve lost 95,697 pounds. Only 904,303 to go. By April 23.
People, now would be a good time to start that juice fast.
Beth joins us on Radio Boston between 3 and 4 today to discuss the city’s weight-loss campaign. Just a couple of points to note:
It’s very hard to know whether that disappointing poundage is a true failure to lose or just a failure to track. I spoke today to Boston City Councillor Felix Arroyo. Last year, when Mayor Menino announced his million-pound march, WBUR’s Delores Handy reported that he also personally pledged to lose two pounds a month himself. Other weight-loss pledges followed, she reported, including Arroyo’s goal of over three pounds a month.