In testimony submitted to the Joint Committee on Public Health on May 10, the MMA expressed serious concerns about two bills — H. 2329 and S. 1386 — that would create mandated minimum performance standards for local boards of health.

The bills were drafted after the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health issued a report in mid-2019 that found that most local boards of health were unable to keep up with a growing list of duties. In the months since the report, the addition of pandemic-related responsibilities has greatly exacerbated the demand on local resources and staff.

In its testimony to the committee, the MMA stated that, “with no understanding of the costs associated with such mandated minimum performance standards, and no identified dedicated state-funding source, the responsibility to support these mandates would be a new burden placed on the backs of cities and towns as a significant new unfunded mandate.”

While the MMA expressed support for the vision laid out in the special commission’s report, the MMA asked the Joint Committee on Public Health to “conduct a thorough analysis of the sweeping unfunded mandates in these bills, and secure a guaranteed full-funding source before advancing these measures out of committee.”

The special commission made six recommendations and provided a detailed roadmap for organizing and supporting local health departments to raise standards, strengthen collaboration, better use technology, improve skills, and stabilize resources.

The bills before the Public Health Committee are titled “an act relative to accelerating improvements to the local and regional public health system to address disparities in the delivery of public health services.”

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