In the disaster of a global pandemic, an under-resourced public health department is like a firefighter asked to put out a fire without water or protective gear. We advocate for immediate funding to reinforce our trusted public institutions and coordinate policy guidance for equitable public safety.
Over the past decade, local and state health departments have lost 20% of their workforce, and local health department budgets shrank by as much as 24%. The ongoing COVID-19 emergency has only further revealed the critical gaps in public health capacity, infrastructure, and supply chains necessary to protect the public in any emergency.
The Alliance worked to capture the immediate needs of our member departments and healthcare sector partners in the early days of the pandemic. We prepared a brief outlining the urgent needs identified by our members and partners to support coordination of response efforts.
Key priorities included:
This brief was shared with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State of California health officials, and other key decisionmakers. As the needs identified in the original brief continue to evolve, we work to identify and elevate critical changes as they occur to better support equitable response and recovery strategies.
As a result of COVID-19, there have been several important policy shifts happening within Medi-Cal, including the approval of several emergency waivers that allow greater flexibility for what’s covered under Medi-Cal reimbursement, though there has been a delay of the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) process. The Alliance partnered with Transform Health, to prepare a Brief and accompanying Appendix outlining the implications of these changes and how they can be leveraged to support public health.
The Public Health Alliance released a brief Investing In Our Local Health Departments, jam-packed with data, infographics, and key messaging around the history of public health funding cuts and a call to action for investing in a resilient and robust public health system. We also created adaptable talking points, graphics, and resources that local health departments and advocates can customize to their local context and use for advocacy.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been numerous articles highlighting what we all know – that long-standing funding cuts to local health department infrastructure have hindered our response to this pandemic.