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Massachusetts Public Health Association
 
Action for a Healthy Massachusetts 


 December 2013 
In This Issue
1. Support MPHA with an End-of-the-Year Gift
2. Partners In Prevention
3. Institute on Urban Health Releases White Paper on Prevention Trust
4. Policy Priorities Report
5. Healthy Transportation Compact Makes Progress
6. MPHA Awards Breakfast Call for Nominations!
7. Event: The Current State of Obesity Solutions in the United States

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Support MPHA with an End-of-the-Year Gift

You're part of this team-- a very important part
.
Because of your past support and partnership, the Massachusetts Public Health Association is
firmly established as the Commonwealth's leading voice for high-impact policy solutions that address critical social determinants of health. As we look ahead to 2014 and beyond, we hope that you will continue to support the vision and leadership of MPHA with an end-of-the-year gift
 
Click here to give online, or call us at 857-263-7072 x113 to give over the phone.

Partners in Prevention: How "Non-Health" State Agencies are advancing Public Health in Massachusetts

 

In November, MPHA released a brief highlighting work being done across state agencies in Massachusetts that advance the goals of healthy eating, active living, and smoke-free environments.  The brief, "Partners in Prevention: How "Non-Health" State Agencies are Advancing Public Health in Massachusetts," was funded by the American Public Health Association though the Community Transformation Grant program.

 

The brief provides profiles of projects led by eight agencies, including a public trails project led by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, an urban parks initiative led by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the new Healthy Transportation Directive issued by the Department of Transportation.  The brief discusses strategies and lessons learned in integrating health goals within this diverse array of agencies.  Click here to read the brief.

  
Institute on Urban Health Releases White Paper on the Prevention Trust
 
The Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice (IUHRP) at Northeastern University recently released a white paper titled "The Massachusetts Prevention and Wellness Trust: An Innovative Approach to Prevention as a Component of Health Care Reform." The report highlights the model and promise of the Trust in Massachusetts and examines the evolution of this model from an idea of a group of advocates to its legislative passage and early phases of implementation.  
 
The paper highlights the leadership role of MPHA and profiles leaders who made the passage of the Trust possible. Along with the paper, the Institute created an infographic about the Trust.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the white paper, also released this Q&A as part of its NewPublicHealth blog with Institute director John Auerbach and Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett discussing the implementation of the Trust. Read on
Policy Priorities Status Report: Victories, Progress, and Much Work Ahead 

As we wrap up 2013 and head into the second year of the two-year legislative session, here is a quick snapshot of where MPHA priorities currently stand.  We've had some great success already in 2013 and we are well positioned for even greater success in the year to come.  None of this would be possible without Act FRESH Campaign leaders and other MPHA members who put in countless hours putting this agenda front and center with policy makers and opinion leaders - making calls, sending emails, attending hearings and rallies, writing Op-Eds and letters to the editor, spreading the word on social media, educating neighbors and colleagues, and meeting with local and state officials. But there is much work still to be done in 2014, and we will need the active involvement of all our members and allies in order to fully accomplish our goals! 

We are currently pushing for the inclusion of the Active Streets Program in the language of the Transportation Bond Bill.  We've received very encouraging signs, and we expect that a new version of the Bond Bill, with the Active Streets proposal included, could be released from the House Bonding committee before the New Year. In July, the Legislature passed a Transportation Finance Bill  which raised an average of $600 million per year from a combination of new revenue sources, including a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax. This was a significant victory that will allow for greater investments in active and healthy transportation in communities across the state, but it is far from a complete solution to what is still a major financing gap for our entire transportation system.

 

Defend and Increase the Public Health Budget 

The fiscal year 2014 budget, which went into effect on July 1, 2013, included important public health victories, including new investments in public health infrastructure that MPHA fought hard for.  These investments allow for the hiring of additional inspectional and regulatory staff to address the serious shortfalls in inspectional capacity that currently exists due to years of dramatic budget cuts.  We head now into the fiscal 2015 budget debate.  Governor Patrick will release his budget proposal in January.  Click here to read MPHA's FY15 budget testimony to Secretary John Polanowicz.

 

Successfully Implement and Expand the Prevention & Wellness Trust 

Twenty Massachusetts communities submitted funding applications  by the November 2013 deadline, and awards are expected to be announced in mid-January 2014. MPHA and our partners have provided regular and ongoing input to DPH, and we will play an active role in communications to build visibility, knowledge, and political will following the award announcement. Efforts to expand the Trust by dedicating new funds from closing the "other tobacco products" loophole were unsuccessful in 2013.

 

Create a Fresh Food Financing Initiative

Two bills that would create a Massachusetts Food Trust were reported favorably by legislative committees in 2013.  In June, the Community Development and Small Business Committee reported a House bill, and then in November, the Environment Committee reported a Senate Bill.  The bills are now being considered before the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees, respectively. MPHA has played a leading role in this effort, along with The Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Food Association.

 

Pass Zoning Reform Legislation for Healthy Community Design

The bill is currently before the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, chaired by Rep. Sarah Peake and Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry. MPHA and Act FRESH leaders have been working with the bill's champions to build support among legislative leadership and address concerns raised by other stakeholders.  Both chairs have been supportive, and we are pushing for the committee to approve and release a bill in January.

 

Pass Legislation to Increase Physical Activity & Physical Education in Schools

The bill is before the Committee on Education.  MPHA and Act FRESH leaders have provided testimony, educated legislators, and built new supporters. We will continue to educate key leaders and push for action in 2014.

 

Healthy Transportation Compact Makes Progress

 

The Healthy Transportation Compact annual meeting was on December 5th, where state officials gave progress and updates on the Compact, a creation of the 2009 transportation reform law that mandated that health, transportation, and environmental agencies work together to promote healthy transportation options.  

 

The results of the "Grounding McGrath" health impact assessment (HIA) were provided, which served as a pilot HIA for the Compact and assessed the options for re-design of the McGrath Highway overpass through Somerville and the health impacts on Somerville and surrounding communities.  Learn more about the Compact and see all the presentations from the December 5th meeting here

MPHA Awards Breakfast Call for Nominations!

 

MPHA is officially accepting nominations for our 2014 Public Health Awards Breakfast celebration.  Nominations will be accepted through Friday, January 24, 2014.

 

The event committee will review all nominations and select the recipients. Awards will be presented at the Massachusetts Public Health Association Awards Breakfast in the spring of 2014.

 

All proceeds from the event will go to support MPHA's work to protect and create new resources for prevention and MPHA's Act FRESH Campaign.  Act FRESH is building healthier communities for all residents by improving access to healthy, affordable food and safe public spaces for physical activity. Read on

 

Event Jan. 7: The Current State of Obesity Solutions in the United States

 

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies will hold a workshop on January 7, 2014 titled "The Current State of Obesity Solutions in the United States" --the introductory event for the new IOM Roundtable on Obesity Solutions.  The national expert panel of presenters includes Massachusetts' own Cheryl Bartlett, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

 

The workshop will present a status update on the current epidemiology of obesity and explore the prevalence, trends, severity, and disparities across the United States. Workshop presenters will discuss key settings where change is happening, focusing on nutrition, physical activity, the elimination of health disparities, and what should happen next. Read on

 

The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) is the state's leading voice for public health.  As a statewide membership organization, we engage communities in advocacy to protect and improve the health of all the Commonwealth's residents.  Our focus is on preventing disease and injury.

For more information visit us at www.mphaweb.org or call 857.263.7072