On Wednesday, Feb. 27, Rep. Joseph McGonagle, along with his colleagues in the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to strengthen local and regional public health services across Massachusetts.
The legislation, An Act Relative to Strengthening the Local and Regional Public Health System, supports collaboration between local boards of health and neighboring municipal public health departments to deliver high-quality and efficient public health services such as disease control, emergency preparedness, restaurant inspection, sanitary code enforcement, and suicide prevention and substance use disorder outreach.
“With the global virus outbreak on our doorstep, I’m proud that the House took action to help communities across the Commonwealth protect the health and safety of their residents,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “Thank you to Vice Chair Garlick and Representative Kane for their diligence and focus on this issue.”
“This legislation is truly beneficial to all individuals and families across the Commonwealth,” said McGonagle. “Our public health officials and agencies already do a fantastic job and I am excited to see them continue that work with the help of this bill. I’m grateful to the Speaker, Vice-Chair Garlick and Rep. Kane for their bipartisan work in getting this bill passed.”
Specifically, the legislation seeks to strengthen local public health in three ways:
•Establishes the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) program: A competitive grant program that provides funding to public health departments to increase sharing of services across municipalities, strengthen service delivery capabilities, and improve system accountability and data reporting.
•Ensures the local public health workforce has access to training: Provides boards of health officials and staff with free educational and training opportunities four times annually in regions across the state.
•Sets new statewide public health standards: Department of Public Health will develop a set of minimum standards for foundational public health services to improve the quality of and create uniformity within the public health services of the Commonwealth.
The bill is now in the Senate.