See below to stay up to date on what we are doing to strengthen public health practice and promote sound public health policy.
VPHA completed its first advocacy day on Thursday, January 27th. The advocacy day, held virtually in response to the pandemic, was a big success. VPHA members met with ten state legislators and their staff to discuss VPHA’s 2022 policy priorities and to stress the importance of public health in Virginia.
VPHA’s top priority this legislative session is for the General Assembly to pass SB 192. This bill would allow qualified public health professionals without medical degrees to serve as local health district directors (LHDs). Currently, LHD directors must have a medical degree. This unnecessary requirement has resulted in roughly a third of LHDs not having a permanent director - affecting nearly 20 percent of Virginians.
VPHA members also urged lawmakers to support Budget Amendment Item 304 #6s, which would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for adult dental providers by 30 percent beginning on July 1, 2022. Raising these rates will increase access to dental service for Medicaid enrollees throughout the Commonwealth.
VPHA will hold its first advocacy day at the State Capitol in Richmond the morning of Thursday, January 27th. Members will meet with legislators to discuss VPHA’s 2022 policy priorities and to stress the importance of public health in Virginia.
VPHA’s advocacy has already been successful. Earlier this month, our advocacy efforts were successful in urging the Joint Commission on Health Care to study how local public health departments are structured and financed in Virginia. Commission staff will conduct the study in 2022 and recommend reforms to lawmakers ahead of the 2023 General Assembly session.
However, other priorities remain. VPHA urges legislators to consider removing the requirement that directors of local health districts (LHDs) be physicians and instead allow licensed health care practitioners or public health professionals to serve as directors of LHDs.
VPHA also urges the General Assembly to establish a Health Equity Trust Fund. This fund would finance public health interventions not eligible for support through categorical grants and other restricted funding sources.
Finally, VPHA calls on the General Assembly to establish a workgroup to explore how Virginia can leverage CHIP Health Service Initiatives (HSI) to address public health issues that disproportionately affect low-income children. HSIs allow states to draw down federal dollars to support these initiatives. Virginia historically has left these dollars on the table, notwithstanding a recent HSI to support the Commonwealth’s poison control centers.
Check out our “Upcoming Events” page for information on how you can participate in VPHA’s advocacy day!
Last Thursday, legislators on Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care voted to study how local public health departments are structured and financed. Commission staff will conduct the study in 2022 and recommend reforms to lawmakers ahead of the 2023 General Assembly session.
VPHA vigorously advocated for this study, noting that the Commission has never comprehensively studied this issue. Moreover, a VPHA analysis found that localities’ local health department budgets vary widely, with spending under $10 per person in some localities and over $100 per person in others.
While it is too early to tell what staff will focus on, this study should help policymakers:
The Virginia Public Health Association applauds Governor Northam and General Assembly leaders for proposing substantial investments in Virginia’s public health. These funds - made available by the American Rescue Plan - will improve the health of all Virginians.
The proposed budget makes significant investments toward universal broadband, clean water, food access, mental health, lead remediation, and improved ventilation in Virginia’s public schools. It also includes funds to rebuild Virginia’s public health system through proposed investments in electronic health records, building upgrades, and network infrastructure. These proposals will help prevent disease, improve well-being, and address underlying social determinants of health.
While VPHA is encouraged by this proposal, it urges lawmakers to not lose sight of existing public health crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include record drug overdose deaths, growing numbers of adults and children struggling with mental health illness, enduring poverty, and disparities in our health care system brought about by years long systematic racism. Lawmakers have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to address these critical issues during the special session and beyond.
EDF’s Health program is searching for Director of Chemical Policy. This is a new position focused our efforts to ensure that TSCA implementation serves to expand protections from toxic chemicals especially for individuals and communities at the greatest risk from workers to frontline communities. We have prioritized this position as Richard Denison will begin to transition to a new role at EDF, which will be more advisory in nature.
Sarah Vogel (she/her)Sr. Vice President, Health
Environmental Defense Fund1875 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC, 20009T 202-572-3355
Twitter: @EDFHealth @EDFCleanAir
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Evergreen Action, and Hip Hop Caucus are organizing an in-person demonstration on Capitol Hill to support a national clean electricity stand. With speeches and testimonials, the participating leaders will endorse Biden's climate/infrastructure plan with an emphasis on the key policy of achieving a 100% clean grid by 2035. On July 21st, they are hoping to recruit 100 health professionals to join them on Capitol Hill for a day focused on health advocacy. For additional details, visit: https://actionnetwork.org/events/on-capitol-hill-july-21-join-100-health-professionals-in-support-of-joe-bidens-100-clean-energy-standard
Covid precautions: All of these events will be outdoors and will not involve more than 150-200 people. They will follow all CDC and local guidelines, including masking, six-foot distancing between attendees, and sanitization of podium and microphone between speakers.
From anti vaccination campaigns to bleach injections to questions of the safety of mask wearing, the COVID pandemic has brought issues of incorrect information related to health and medicine to the forefront of the national conversation, but these issues are neither new nor unique to COVID. How did we get to a point where it can be difficult for many to differentiate true, reliable information about our health from misinformation or even intentional disinformation and where do we go from here?
Join us on August 12th as we consider the evolution, scope, impact, and efforts to counter health and medical misinformation and disinformation. Speakers will include APHA President Dr. José Ramón Fernández-Peña, MD, MPA and Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, among many others. Information on symposium goals, schedule, and session descriptions is available here.
Engage with members of the APHA Occupational Health and Safety Section to discuss the APHA policy process, identify ways to strengthen partnerships and seek action to protect worker health at local, state and federal levels.
The purpose of this mid-year event is to improve our understanding of the APHA policy -making process and policy implementation to advance occupational health, equity and well-being for ALL workers. We welcome all members, and non-members, to come participate in a conversation to explore the relevance, use and feasibility of an APHA policy on decent work- perceptions, gaps and opportunities for a future agenda.
Date: July 29, 2021
Start time: 1:00PM Eastern/12:00PM Central/11:00AM Mountain/10:00 AM Pacific
Presented in collaboration with APHA OHS Section, the Great Lakes Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Illinois Chicago and the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Washington.
Healthline is proud to introduce TRANSFORM: Health Equity, a new project from Healthline that strives to advocate for those whom today’s health system marginalizes.
The first step we are taking toward health equity is to highlight the impact of marginalization through personal stories and data. By understanding the struggle of communities that face systemic barriers like sexism, racism, ableism, cissexism, and heterosexism, we can all work toward actionable solutions to ensure nobody is left behind.
Next, we hope to turn education into action! Through our tool, anyone can find local volunteer opportunities and take action today to remove health inequities in their community.
Dear Public Health Champions,
You are invited to attend the Michigan Public Health Association 2021 Virtual Public Health Summit “Strengthening Social Connections and Public Health in Michigan” on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST. Registration is free and here!
The Summit includes the following esteemed public health speakers:
Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, FAAN, President & CEO, Public Health Accreditation Board Joseph West, ScM, ScD, CEO, Florida Institute for Health Innovation
Lisa Carlson, MPH, MCHES, Immediate Past President, American Public Health Association
Kent Key, PhD, MPH, Director of Youth Programs, Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Community Engaged Research and Outreach Specialist, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
President-Elect, Michigan Public Health Association
VPHA • Richmond, Virginia