A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

United We Stand For Public Health

United We Stand For Public Health

January 15, 2009

On Thursday, January 22nd, The United We Stand For Public Health Coalition will be holding a press event at the State House in Nurses Hall at 1PM.

The Press event is a call to protect public health in the state’s budget cuts. Programs in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) were cut by $28 million during the October 9C cuts, which was 4.78% of its FY09 budget, one of the highest percentage cuts of any EOHHS agency and among the highest percentage cuts for any area of state government. As a result of the October 2008 9C cuts, MDPH lost nearly 100 positions, including approximately 50 through involuntary layoffs. Major reductions in core services of public health included:

  • $2.6 million loss of public health hospital care for some of the state’s most vulnerable patients
  • over $6 million in cuts to adult and pediatric immunizations, resulting in loss of vaccines for nearly 100,000 vulnerable elders of deadly illnesses and requiring the state to stop purchasing rotavirus vaccine for infants effective 7/1/09
  • over $3 million in cuts to existing substance abuse treatment services, plus $5 million cut from planned secure treatment for opiate addictions
  • over $1.7 million in family planning and family services cuts, putting teenagers and low income individuals at higher risk for unwanted pregnancies
  • over $1.5 million in cuts to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services, risking unnecessary spread of this disabling and expensive illness
  • over $1 million in cuts to early intervention programs, making it more difficult for children with developmental disabilities to get services
  • closure of STD clinics across the state
  • cuts to an array of disease prevention and health promotion programs, including teen pregnancy, dental health, smoking, suicide prevention, infection control
  • 9% reduction in environmental health services, resulting in reduced support for local public health on food protection, fish advisories, cancer studies, and air quality inspections
  • over $500,000 cut from school health services, an important source of care for, and monitoring of, children
  • cuts in state laboratory services, compromising disease surveillance such as identifying and responding to meningitis flu outbreaks

  • Advocates are preparing for more cuts in January and even more substantial cuts in the FY2010 state budget. The Coalition believes there is a critical role for public health in health cost containment and in achieving health equity for all populations in the Commonwealth. Programs such as screening, immunization, smoking prevention, and infection control prevent poor health status and can reduce the need for costly medical care. Cuts to these programs will lead to increases in costly preventable illnesses that will burden our health care system, reduce productivity and learning, and undermine the success of health care reform.

    Please attend the press event on January 22nd to show your support of state public health programs.