Join us for the Legislative Update call on
Monday, September 10, at 1:00 pm (EST).
APHA's legislative staff will provide an update on
congressional activity and Q & A.
Call (800) 442-5794
I. APHA summer public health advocacy campaign update
II. Help APHA protect public health funding
III. Six-month continuing resolution details expected in September
IV. Health groups ask EPA to set stronger air standards for soot
V. Get involved in new back-to-school meals
VI. Advocacy track at APHA’s 140th Annual Meeting offers opportunity to learn about effective advocacy
VII. Policy watch: Updates from the states
APHA summer public health advocacy campaign update
APHA’s annual Public Health Action Campaign wraps up as the August congressional recess comes to a close and members of Congress return to their Washington, D.C. offices Sept. 10. This year, with the help of the PHACT Campaign toolkit, public health advocates across the country met with their members of Congress and staff, submitted letters to the editor and op-eds to local papers and attended town hall meetings. For example, members of the Montana Public Health Association and other public health advocates met with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., to discuss the importance of federal public health funding for the state, among other important public health issues. Montana advocates also placed an opinion piece in support of public health funding in the Missoulian and several other newspapers throughout the state. APHA encourages advocates to continue their advocacy activities through the rest of the year and would like to hear more about your activities during the PHACT campaign. Share your stories by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several APHA affiliates will continue their PHACT campaign activities into the fall to urge Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction in order to avoid the pending across-the-board cuts of 8 to 10 percent scheduled to take place under sequestration on Jan. 2.
Help APHA protect public health funding
One of the most effective ways to demonstrate the importance of public health funding, and highlight the devastating effects that cuts have on our public health agencies, is to share stories of the work being done in states and communities across the country. We encourage you to email us at email@example.com to share a story about public health funding at work in your state. Is there an obesity prevention program taking place at a community center near you? Have more children been vaccinated in your state this year? Were you able to adequately prepare for and respond to public health issues related to the recent hurricanes? Email us and tell us about the important work you see public health funding doing in your state and we’ll share the message with policymakers in Washington, D.C. You can also submit your stories online.
Please also take the time to send a message to your members of Congress urging them to support adequate funding for federal public health programs.
Six-month continuing resolution details expected in September
When Congress returns from its annual August recess next week, members must immediately turn their attention to finalizing a six-month continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The continuing resolution is expected to keep the federal government operating at current levels through March 31. Once the details of the agreement are finalized, the House and Senate will each have to vote on the spending bill extension and the president must sign it into law.
Congress will have its hands full after the November election when they must try to address several other contentious issues including the pending sequester (across-the-board cuts of 8 to 10 percent to defense and nondefense discretionary programs set to kick in on Jan. 2), a 27 percent payment cut to Medicare providers scheduled to kick in on Jan. 1 as well as the expiration of Bush administration-era tax cuts.
While we wait on the final details of the proposed six-month continuing resolution, it is critical that advocates continue to contact their members of Congress in support of strong funding for public health agencies and programs. Congress will still be faced with passing a final FY 2013 spending bill when the proposed continuing resolution expires at the end of March.
Health groups ask EPA to set stronger air standards for soot
On Aug. 31, several leading public health and medical organizations submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in support of strengthening the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter, or soot. The organizations are asking EPA to strengthen the annual average standard for fine particulate matter or soot, known as PM2.5, to 11 micrograms per cubic meter and the 24-hour standard to 25 μg/m3. EPA’s proposal announced on June 14 would set the annual average standard at between 12-13 μg/m3 and maintain the existing 24-hour standard of 35 μg/m3. Particulate matter causes or is likely the cause of premature deaths and significant health problems, such as increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for cardiovascular and respiratory problems, including heart attacks and strokes. PM2.5 is also linked to the development of chronic respiratory disease, reproductive and developmental harm, as well as cancer, mutagenicity and genotoxicity. The EPA proposal would maintain the existing standards for PM10, or course particles, which has been in place since 1987.
Get involved in new back-to-school meals
New school meal standards will be implemented this fall. School lunches are required to include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and fewer calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated the nutrition standards for school meals as directed by Congress through the Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Join other public health advocates in providing support for schools to implement these healthy standards and improving the image of school lunch through the recently launched Back 2 School Campaign.
Advocacy track at APHA’s 140th Annual Meeting offers opportunity to learn about effective advocacy
APHA’s Government Relations and Communications Departments will host a series of advocacy focused sessions at the organization’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco from Oct. 29–31. The Advocacy stand in the Expo will also offer information on getting involved with APHA’s advocacy efforts, as well as fact sheets on APHA priorities and APHA’s annual vote record.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Advocacy Training for Leaders: Developed for Affiliate, Section and Special Primary Interest Group leaders, this session will offer interactive panels including APHA staff-led presentations on available tools and resources; APHA and Affiliate leaders sharing their advocacy efforts and successes; advocacy experts speaking on best practices; and legislative staff providing tips for policymaker communication.
Monday, Oct. 29, 10:30 a.m. – noon Media Advocacy: Breaking through the Crowded News Cycle: This session will offer tips on how to work effectively with the news media to deliver public health messages to journalists, decision makers and other target audiences. A panel of journalists will share inside strategies for pitching stories to media outlets and other tips for generating news coverage.
Monday, Oct. 29, 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. The Who, What, and How of Advocacy: This session will feature a discussion about the ethics and legalities surrounding lobbying, advocacy and advocacy in the workplace.
Monday, Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. Mobilizing a Public Health Campaign: This session will feature a panel discussion on effective ways to engage the public, lawmakers, the media and partners in support of a public health issues.
Policy watch: Updates from the states
Maryland to launch health insurance exchange program
Maryland is one of eight states awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to launch its health insurance exchange program, projected to begin enrollment in October 2013. Named the Maryland Health Connection, the health insurance exchange program, a new state-based competitive marketplace for affordable health insurance created under the Affordable Care Act, will transform the way residents and small businesses choose health plans, ultimately working to reduce unnecessary operational costs and make access to health care plans simple and more efficient. In the first year, more than 150,000 people are projected to purchase insurance through the exchange, with approximately 101,000 people projected to enroll in Medicaid. As a result, it is estimated that the number of uninsured residents will be cut in half by the year 2020. Residents will be able to purchase insurance from the Maryland Health Connection website. Maryland’s efforts to create transparency between residents and their health care solutions have been recognized as a model for other states.
Georgia governor to reject federal assistance
Gov. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., stated that he does not support the expansion of Medicaid through which the federal government would provide the funds to increase state-wide health insurance coverage for low-income residents as part of the Affordable Care Act. The federal government would provide 100 percent of the funds for the first three years of the program and 90 percent of the funds thereafter. Deal does not think that the state or the federal government would be able to maintain the necessary monetary support for Georgia’s Medicaid needs. Georgia has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the nation — approximately 20 percent of the state’s population residents are uninsured. The expansion would have provided health insurance through Medicaid for an estimated 650,000 low-income Georgia residents, including many families.
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