NHPHA Policy Committee Update January 2021

written by Joan Ascheim, former NHPHA Executive Director

As the holiday season is upon us, so too is the ramp-up to the beginning of the legislative session. Bills have been filed now by both the House and the Senate. We understand that there will likely be some combining of bills to decrease the total number during the session. How the legislature will meet is still unclear, but we are excited about our policy agenda for the upcoming session. The NHPHA Public Policy Committee is actively reviewing LSRs as they are filed and revised and will have a more complete list in January.

We have four priority areas and will be more proactive on some than others. Here’s a quick run-down.

1. Support public health preventive efforts and health access, particularly for vulnerable populations.

  • Keep your eyes out for a bill to support community health workers in the public health regions. This may end up a standalone or combined with other legislation, but in either form, NHPHA will play an active role to support this.
  • There will be a bill to fund adult vaccines through the same method currently used for childhood vaccines. That method is through a vaccine association and fees assessed and collected from the insurance companies to fund purchasing of vaccines for adults at a reduced rate. NHPHA will support this. NHPHA is also working with the COVID-19 Equity Task Force to educate public health and community leaders to feel confident in communicating accurately about the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the community to dispel myths and allay anxiety.

2. Provide support for a strong local and state public health infrastructure.

  • We anticipate a bill to support resources for the state public health infrastructure. The community health worker bill mentioned above would bring resources to local public health. These bills may end up as one. NHPHA will actively support.
  • There is a bill to repeal the state health assessment and plan council. NHPHA has a seat on this council and will, of course, oppose this bill.

3. Support policies that enable families to earn a living wage and care for their families.

  • We are still reviewing and prioritizing bills that address this priority. NHPHA will not take a lead role on this but will support other advocacy organizations working to ensure families can support themselves.

4. Support policies and programs that increase access to healthy, affordable foods.

  • NHPHA is a member of the food access coalition and is working collaboratively with many partners to educate legislators on the state of food insecurity in New Hampshire and how to alleviate it. It is currently unclear what bills will look like in their final form.

We believe this policy agenda is a strong one that addresses the social determinants of health, which is critical now more than ever in light of the pandemic. We hope that you will join us in advocating for these priorities as the session progresses. Please consider joining the NHPHA Public Policy Committee by contacting Jess Barnett at [email protected]. You can find a pdf of our policy priorities on our website here.

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