For the last six years the FRCOG has been involved in a statewide movement to improve the local public health infrastructure. Currently Massachusetts has the most decentralized local public health system in the nation – with 351 health departments (as compared to 61 in California), an is one of the only states that does not directly support public health protections with state funding.
FRCOG had a seat on the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health, which met from 2016 -2019, and issued a Blueprint For Public Health Excellence (PDF, 11.5 MB).
Since then we have been involved in leading the coalition to advocate for implementation of the Blueprint’s recommendations through legislation, budget allocations, and ARPA funds. In the last legislative session, our advocacy focused on the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community (or SAPHE 2.0) Bill, filed by Senator Jo Comerford and Representatives Hannah Kane and Denis Garlick.
This bill would establish minimum public health standards for every community, increase capacity and effectiveness through incentivizing service sharing, create a uniform statewide data collection system, and dedicate sustainable state funding. The bill received unanimous support from both the House and Senate in the waning days of the 2021/22 Session, was returned with damaging revisions by the Governor, and remains in play during the informal session.
Lead cosponsors of the SAPHE 2.0 Act are State Senator Jo Comerford, State Representative Hannah Kane, and State Representative Denise Garlick.
The SAPHE 2.0 Coalition is led by municipal officials and public health experts, including:
Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, New Bedford Health Director Damon Chaplin, Shrewsbury Town Manager Kevin Mizikar, Massachusetts Health Officers Association President Rae Dick, Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses President Ruth Mori, East Longmeadow Health Director Aimee Petrosky, Wrentham Town Administrator Kevin Sweet, and Phoebe Walker, Director of Community Services for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.