Interim Executive Director and Chief of Government Affairs Laura Hanen, MPP

Welcome to NACCHO!

NACCHO comprises nearly 3,000 Local Health Departments across the United States. Together, we form an organization focused on being a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for change for local health departments around the nation.  As the national voice for Local Health Departments, NACCHO serves a critical role in Washington. All of our  advocacy efforts focus on informing policymakers of the critical role that local health departments play in keeping our communities healthy and safe.


About Laura Hanen, MPP

Laura Hanen is the Interim Executive Director and Chief of Government Affairs for the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) in Washington, D.C. The National Association of County and City Health Departments is the voice of the approximately 2,800 local health departments across the country. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. Ms.Hanen’s primary responsibilities are to oversee policy development, federal lobbying, and the Big Cities Health Coalition. Ms. Hanen joined NACCHO in March of 2011.  

Prior to coming to NACCHO, Ms. Hanen was the Director of Government Relations for the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors for eleven years. Ms. Hanen was the Senior Lobbyist for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Ms. Hanen was a legislative assistant for Congressman Rick Boucher of the Ninth District of Virginia. Ms Hanen was also a legislative assistant in the Government Relations Department of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. 

Ms. Hanen received her Bachelor's degree from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and a Master's degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The Top Three National Policy Priorities for NACCHO in 2018
Q&A with Laura Hanen, MPP, Interim Executive Director and Chief of Government Affairs The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

Washington, DC, February 5, 2018 — The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. Here Laura Hanen discusses the organization’s top government affairs issues for 2018.

Q.  Ms. Hanen, what are the three most pressing issues for local health departments this year?

I think protecting the Prevention and Public Health Fund, reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act, and dealing with the country’s deadly opioid crisis are most important to our members.

Q.  Why is defending the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) so important?  Aren’t there other funding streams available to local health departments?

The Prevention and Public Health Fund is a critical funding lifeline for local health departments.  The money comes to them through state health departments from the CDC.  Local health departments need this financial support to sustain the health and safety of the communities they serve.   For example, right now the entire country except Hawaii is suffering through a particularly bad flu season.  According to the latest report, more than 50 children have died.  Many local health departments offer free flu shots in the fall anticipating flu season.  Losing financial support for preventative care could have dire consequences for communities and impact those most in need of services.  All Americans need to have access both to primary healthcare and the prevention programs and services provided by health departments.  There is also an important health equity issue here.   Some of the most vulnerable in our communities including children, minorities and seniors look to care from their local health departments. 

Q.  Okay.  You said another policy priority for your members is the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act.  What is that?  Doesn’t a pandemic refer to an international epidemic?

Local health departments are able to act quickly to protect people in their communities during emergencies because of ongoing public health preparedness activities. They develop emergency plans, purchase the equipment and supplies necessary to execute plans, train their workforce and conduct exercises to test plans, and use lessons learned from the trainings and exercises to improve those plans.

To support these activities, every 5 years, the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) (H.R.307) requires on an act of Congress for its reauthorization. The law was last extended in 2013. In 2018, coming off major natural disasters in California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, discussions will center on how the law can be strengthened to ensure robust public health and health care preparedness and response capabilities. Most importantly for local health departments, the law authorizes the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, the Hospital Preparedness Program, and the Medical Reserve Corps. These programs support local readiness and response to emergencies. More than half of local health departments rely on federal funding alone to support their emergency preparedness activities.

Q.  Let’s discuss the opioid epidemic.  Is the situation improving?

Unfortunately, we are losing ground, while Congress and the White House continue to discuss the extent of the problem while failing to provide any additional funds. Since 2000, the number of deaths related to opioid overdose has quadrupled, with over 60,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2016.  And, here is still an immediate need for a surge in resources, dedicated funding, and a coordinated federal, state, and local response. However, the declaration of an opioid public health emergency and not a state of national emergency does not go far enough. Much more money is needed to implement the programs we know will help our communities.

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Senate Healthcare Bill Would Eviscerate Public Health and Healthcare Access 

Statement by Laura Hanen, MPP, Interim Executive Director and Chief of Government Affairs of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

Washington, DC, June 22, 2017 —“As the voice of nearly 3,000 local health departments across the United States, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) strongly disavows the Senate’s ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’ bill, which eliminates the funding that provides essential resources to governmental public health at the federal, state and local levels. In addition, rural communities will be hit particularly hard by the legislation’s proposed Medicaid cuts.”

The ‘‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’’ eliminates funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) in FY2018, eroding 12% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) funding. Among the CDC programs at risk are the 317 Immunization Program, Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grants, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, and Diabetes Prevention, among others, which support local health department activities to keep the public healthy and safe.
 
In FY2020, the ‘‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’’ begins phasing out the Medicaid expansion established by 32 states after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided access to primary and emergency care to millions of Americans. The bill also caps federal Medicaid funding, which will ultimately result in shifting responsibility to the states and counties ― leaving governors, state legislatures, and local governments facing tight budgets with limited choices, other than reducing coverage for millions of seniors, low-income families, people with disabilities, and children. While the bill addresses the opioid epidemic by providing additional funding, at the same time, limitations on Medicaid access would potentially deny substance abuse treatment for 1.3 million people who need it.

“America’s heartland will suffer if this rushed, short-sighted legislation becomes law.  Many individuals living in rural areas rely on Medicaid to stay healthy and maintain their quality of life. They will lose their coverage. These families already face challenges in  accessing care, because healthcare providers and hospitals are farther away. The higher poverty rates in rural communities make a problematic situation even more difficult and can lead to poor health outcomes. In addition, some rural hospitals may close without enough insured patients, hurting the entire community. 

“Moreover, the public’s health will suffer with the passage of this legislation. The burden will fall on our already overstretched local health departments to protect the public’s health. Local health departments need adequate funding to carry out their mandate to protect the communities they serve and help us all maintain a good quality of life.”

Here is Ms. Hanen's statement, "President's Decision to Withdraw U.S. from Paris Accord on Climate Change Is Short-Sighted and Risks Public's Health.".

Here is Ms. Hanen's statement on the White House's proposed budget.

Read Ms. Hanen's statement, "As New Hepatitis B and C Infections Increase, the Nation’s Local Health Departments Are Working to Protect Americans".

Here is Ms. Hanen's statement on the House of Representatives passage of the American Health Care Act bill.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Hill story supporting the Surgeon General's naloxone recommendation.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Business Insurance article.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Huffinton Post article.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this story about NACCHO's Zika capacity study.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this National Journal article.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Modern Healthcare article.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in the Route Fifty article, "Local Health Officials Decry House Plan to Gut Disease Prevention Fund to Pay for CHIP."

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Route Fifty article on the declaration of an opioid public health emergency.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Reuters article syndicated in the U.S. and abroad.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this profile of the Bureau, Putnam & Marshall County Health Departments which received a NACCHO Model Practice Award.

Ms. Hanen is interviewed in this Science Blogs story, "Trump's Budget is a disaster for public health: If you are not at the table, you are on the menu."

Ms. Hanen is quoted regarding the continued need for Zika funding.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Emergency Management story.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Fierce Healthcare story on the White House's proposed budget cuts.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Minnesota National Public Radio story on the measles outbreak among the Somali community.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this NBC News story on the reluctance of parents to vaccinate their children against the measles.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Health Day story on health disparities in the U.S.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the Trump Administration's opioids crisis story.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Advisory Board article on the opioid crisis.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Politico story on the opioid crisis.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this Associated Press story that was syndicated in more than 400 news outlets.

Ms. Hanen is the author of NACCHO's statement on Repeal and Replace of the Affordable Care Act reprinted by the Seattle Facts newspaper.

Ms. Hanen's Q&A on the Affordable Care Act was published by Efficient Government.

Ms. Hanen's op-ed on the value of vaccines was published by The Hill newspaper.

Ms. Hanen is quoted in this STAT News story about Zika funding.