January 2020

Though it is nearly the end of January, I hope it is not too late to say Happy New Year and to share our sense of excitement at the start of a new decade. And this decade is already off to a running start!

With the coronavirus outbreak highlighting the critical importance of public health infrastructure, MPHA is more committed than ever to moving our Commonwealth to a 21st century public health system. As you know, the  Blueprint for Public Health Excellence  was released by the  Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health  last spring, and the FY20 state budget included funding for a pilot program to incentivize shared public health services at the municipal level. The first awards from this funding were released earlier this month, and the Department of Public Health has issued a new request for proposals for a second round of funding (see below). We are celebrating this step forward and, at the same time, we are working with our allies in the Coalition for Local Public Health to continue pressing for passage of the  State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Bill , which would implement many other key recommendations of the Special Commission.

The Governor's budget (known as "House 2") was released last week, and there are some bright spots for public health (see below). We will keep on top of the budget as it moves through the House and Senate on its way to a final FY2021 budget in July. We are also monitoring the progress of a comprehensive health care bill and the transportation financing debate currently taking place in the Legislature. We will keep you up-to-date on these important policy issues and ask you to support the inclusion of public health and equity priorities throughout the process.

There are less than two weeks left to nominate your public health hero for an MPHA award to be presented at our Spring Awards Breakfast on June 5. Each year this nomination process inspires us, as we learn more about the work being done to promote healthy communities and health equity. S ee below for information about submitting your nominations by the February 8 deadline.

Finally, MPHA is continuing our search for both a Public Policy Specialist and a Development and Communications Manager. Please help us find excellent staff committed to the mission and vision of MPHA!

As always, we deeply appreciate your continued partnership and support in the struggle for greater health equity in the Commonwealth. Your participation is what makes our work possible.


Carlene Pavlos
Executive Director
Policy Notes
State Announces Grant Awards for Shared Services
We are excited to share that the MA Department of Public Health recently announced nearly $300,000 in grant awards to help local public health systems work together. This is a great step forward in helping to ensure that ALL residents receive high-quality public health services, regardless of their zip code. Grants will support training staff, improving inspection services, addressing abandoned housing, and more.  A future ground of grants is also planned (see announcement below).

MPHA is proud to have led the effort to advocate for this funding, as part of a multi-pronged approach to increase the effectiveness of local health departments. The Grant Program was one of the recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Health. MPHA is working with our partners to advance additional critical recommendations of the Special Commission by passing the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Bill. The Bill is currently awaiting a report out from the House Committee on Ways and Means. To learn more,  click here .
Governor's Proposed Budget Has Challenges, Opportunities
On January 22, Governor Baker released his budget proposal for FY 2021, including a 5% increase in funding for the Department of Public Health. Given the impacts of inflation and increased costs of doing business, this is essentially a level-funded budget. The Governor's proposal makes several important investments in MPHA priority areas, including $500,000 to support shared services among local health departments (a core recommendation of the SAPHE Act ); a $2.7m investment in the  Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program ; new investments in Environmental Public Health Services to support inspections and testing for PFAS (a.k.a. Forever Chemicals); and investments in Family Health Services to address new limitations on the use of federal family planning funds.
MPHA appreciates a proposal to increase funding for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), but it falls short of what is needed to provide reliable, affordable transit services. We are also disappointed that the Healthy Incentives Program faces a proposed funding cut. MPHA will be working hard to increase funding for these programs in the coming months. We will also be focused on winning adequate funding for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program and the Mass in Motion Program, as well as language needed to close the SNAP Gap. We will need your help to achieve these goals! Please stay tuned to learn how you can make a difference in our budget advocacy efforts.
Event Highlights Need for Better Transportation Options

On Friday, January 10, 2020, more than 115 community members, local leaders, and state legislators from the Merrimack Valley came together in Lawrence, MA, to discuss an important issue: transportation for older adults. From riders and community service providers we heard that there is an urgent and growing need for more - and more affordable - transportation options. Special thanks to our sponsor, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, for making this event possible.


We are grateful to Sen. Dizoglio, Rep. Moran, Rep. Devers, and Rep. Vargas for attending and to Sen. Finegold and Rep. Minicucci for sending staff. Thanks also to our cosponsors: The Lawrence Senior Center, City of Lawrence Mayor's Health Task Force, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley/North Shore Elder Services, Northern Essex Elder Transport, MA Association of Councils on Aging, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Groundwork Lawrence, T4MA, and WalkBoston. To learn more or get involved in advocacy efforts to improve transportation in Massachusetts,  click here .
Nominate a Health Equity Champion!
Who do you know who has worked tirelessly for health equity in Massachusetts? MPHA's Spring Awards Breakfast will take place on Friday, June 5, 2020,  at the State Room in Boston. Please save the date and send us your suggestions of leaders who have made, or are making, a lasting impact on public health in Massachusetts. To l earn more about the five award categories and submit your nominations,  click here The deadline for nominations is February 8. We look forward to hearing from you and hope you can join us in Boston for a celebration of inspirational achievements in building health equity!
MPHA Hiring a Public Policy Specialist
MPHA has a new position open - Public Policy Specialist. This position will be a core part of a four-person Policy & Field Team working to advance MPHA's health equity policy agenda.  MPHA's ongoing success depends on a diversity of lived experiences and talents as we strive for greater health equity in Massachusetts. Therefore, we make a particular effort to recruit people of color. For the full job description and application instructions,  click here .
MPHA Recruiting Development & Communications Manager
MPHA is recruiting for a new position based in our Boston office --  a full-time Development and Communications Manager. This position will be responsible for the development and implementation of annual communications and fundraising plans. We are looking for someone committed to health and social justice and enthusiastic about growing their knowledge of MPHA's mission and work! For more information,  click here .
DPH Planning New Round of Shared Services Grants
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health plans to award 3-5 additional planning grants through the new Massachusetts Municipal Public Health Shared Services Grant Program . To learn more and apply click here .
Massachusetts Public Health Association | (857) 263-7072 | mpha@mapublichealth.org |   mapublichealth.org