February 2020

Good public health is invisible. When our public health systems work, disease, disability, and death simply do not happen. When they do not work, the results can be catastrophic. Today, we are watching the international spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the same time that the Trump Administration is proposing significant funding cuts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At MPHA we realize that, although good public health is invisible, it relies on an infrastructure - systems, institutions, and people - and that such infrastructure requires support. Although Massachusetts has many first-rate health care institutions, it lacks a coherent public health infrastructure at the local level. That is why it is so important that we pass the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Bill, which would establish an incentive grant program and additional training opportunities to support our municipal public health departments so that they can collaborate more effectively to address our 21st century public health challenges.   Read more below about what you can do to help pass the SAPHE Act.

Our fiscal year 2021 budget priorities also reflect our commitment to local and state public health infrastructure, as well as our support for investments in upstream drivers of health, like healthy food access, affordable housing, and public transportation. You can find more details about the specific programs we are supporting below.

As you will see, there is also a great deal happening on the transportation justice front. Please join us at our upcoming legislative breakfasts on transportation in Central MA and the Berkshires, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for information on the Legislature's much-anticipated proposal for transportation financing. Your help will be crucial in ensuring strong final legislation that advances our goal of affordable, accessible transportation for all residents.

Lastly, MPHA will soon be announcing the recipients of our Spring Public Health Awards! We hope you can join us on the morning of June 5 for this inspiring event.

As always, thank you for your support and partnership,


Carlene Pavlos
Executive Director
Policy Notes
MPHA Announces Budget Priorities
MPHA has released our state budget requests for FY21. These spending priorities reflect our commitment to addressing the upstream causes of health inequity, including poverty and racism, while also investing in the infrastructure we need to build a 21st century public health system in Massachusetts. Key recommendations include:
  • $1.7 million for the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program;
  • $94 million for the Regional Transit Authorities;
  • $300,000 in operating funds for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program;
  • $5 million for the Get the Lead out Program; and
  • $2.7 million for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Trust Fund.
Additional priorities include funding for Mass in Motion, the Healthy Incentives Program, Closing the SNAP Gap, the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, and public data on MassHealth Social Determinants of Health Supports. To learn more,  click here .
MPHA Presses for Funding for Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund 
Earlier this month, when MPHA and our partners testified at a hearing on the Governor's health care bill, we used the opportunity to press for reauthorization of the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund. This fund is an essential ingredient in the effort to improve health equity and curb healthcare costs, because it helps prevent debilitating health conditions before medical intervention is needed. You can help support the fund by contacting your state Rep and Senator and asking for their support for reauthorization. Click here to find your legislators' contact info. For more information on the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, click here.
Endorse the SAPHE Act!
Help stand up for the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Act! This critical bill calls for more support for our 351 municipal public health departments, including access to essential training and grants to encourage local governments to work together to more effectively meet the public health needs of their communities. Currently, our local health system suffers from inconsistency across communities; lack of staffing, especially in smaller towns; and tremendous variability in staff credentials and ability to collect and report public health data. To learn more about the SAPHE Act, click here. To sign on as an individual or organizational endorser, click  here.
MPHA Hosting Meetings on Transportation Policy 
MPHA's Legislative Breakfast series on transportation continues, with upcoming community meetings in Central Mass and the Berkshires. Join us on March 13 in Leominster and on April 3 in Pittsfield, where we will gather with elected officials, community leaders, transportation program managers, social service providers, and others to learn about key state policies now being discussed to improve transportation in the Commonwealth. We'll focus on how these investments could improve transportation for older adults, while also providing other benefits. Both events are made possible by support from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation To register, click here for Leominster  and here for Pittsfield.
Webinar Outlines Campaign to Address Housing, Climate
On Wednesday, March 4, t he Housing and Environment Revenue Opportunities (HERO) Coalition is hosting a webinar featuring State Senator Jamie Eldridge on the connection between the affordable housing and climate crises. Come learn more about current efforts to generate significant new revenue to address both issues. MPHA is a member of the HERO Coalition, a diverse group of environmental, housing and allied advocacy organizations that have joined forces to advocate for major new state investments to protect our families, neighbors and communities from the affordable housing crisis and climate change.   RSVP for the webinar here .
Event Highlights Free Public Transit
A community-based advocacy group called Zero Fare WRTA is working hard to help bring free public transit to Greater Worcester. The concept of zero fares has been in the headlines recently, with more and more cities considering the idea or implementing pilot projects, such as the current trial of free bus routes in Lawrence, MA On March 23 at 6 PM, come to the Rock of Salvation Church, 829 Main St. in Worcester to hear more about the benefits of zero fare public transportation from key Massachusetts leaders, including State Senator Harriet Chandler, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, and Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. For more information, email zerofarewrta@gmail.com.
MPHA's Annual Report available on the web!
Check out MPHA's 2019 Annual Report, which is now available on our website. It includes highlights from the year, perspectives from our partners and collaborators, and an overview of our annual budget. To view the report, click here.
Massachusetts Public Health Association | (857) 263-7072 | mpha@mapublichealth.org |   mapublichealth.org