NACCHO’s 2021 Federal Legislative and Policy Agenda

Feb 26, 2021

NACCHO’s Federal Legislative and Policy Agenda guides the organization’s work in its interactions with federal agencies and Congress. The Agenda features NACCHO’s priority issues and is informed by local health department input and approved annually by the Board of Directors.

Public Health Funding

Federal public health funding is critical to the work of local health departments, and NACCHO will continue its efforts to ensure strong federal investments in public health programs.

  • Ensure funding reaches communities: It is important that the continuum of governmental public health work together to support our shared mission. To do that, NACCHO will continue to advocate for public health funding to flow from the federal level to states and local communities to improve the public’s health most effectively. Unfortunately, federal funding intended by Congress to support all levels of the governmental public health enterprise continues to have variable reach (in amount, timeliness, and requirements) to local public health agencies. Therefore, NACCHO will continue to advocate for substantial additional investments in the governmental public health system at all levels (federal, state, local, tribal and territorial), as well as funding designated specifically for local health departments so that they can continue to lead on the response in the short term, as well as over the long-term response and through recovery.
    • NACCHO also urges the federal government to publicly track disbursement of federal public health funds down to the local health department level to identify best practices as well as better understand the challenges of getting money down to local communities and ensure greater local health department consensus in state public health enterprise decision-making concerning the distribution and uses of federal funds.
  • · Support the vital role of public health guidance in the face of increased politicization: Public health officials have been threatened with physical harm or loss of their jobs because of disputes over mandatory public health measures. Some have been fired or retired early because of public pressure. Some state legislatures are looking to limit public health’s authority to act to keep us safe when the virus spikes, which will inevitably lead to additional blame on the public health system that was made virtually powerless. Policymakers at the local, state, and federal level must support local health officials who are committed to following the dictates of science and protecting the public. Federal public health guidance needs to be clear, consistent, and science-based in order to support these hardworking public servants at the local level.
  • Rebuild and sustain the governmental public health system: COVID-19 has reinforced the need for sustained investment in local health departments, before, during, after, and between crises. NACCHO will continue to support continuous, mandatory funding to support public health infrastructure and workforce.
  • Other appropriations: NACCHO will continue to advocate for strong appropriations in FY2022 for public health programs within the CDC, Food and Drug Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. In order to ensure adequate funding, NACCHO supports continuation at authorized levels for the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Public Health Workforce

The public health workforce is the backbone of our nation’s governmental public health system. Local health departments have actually lost 21% of workforce capacity since 2008, with the number of full-time equivalent local health department workers dropping from 5.2 per 10,000 people in 2008 to 4.1 per 10,000 people in 2019.

Therefore, in 2021, NACCHO will continue a campaign to call on Congress to invest in the public health workforce, by enacting and implementing a loan repayment program for public health professionals who agree to serve two years in a local, state, or tribal health department. This is particularly relevant now, as new staff and volunteers are being brought into the field for the COVID-19 response on a temporary basis. A public health loan repayment program would provide an added incentive to keep them long term and help ensure that their experience is harnessed and available to address current as well as future public health emergencies.

For more information on these priorities, contact Eli Briggs, Senior Government Affairs Director, at ebriggs@naccho.org.


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