Contact: Sue Kunferman, Wisconsin Public Health Association; (715) 421-891 Linda Conlon, Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments & Boards; (715) 369-6111
The Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) and Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards (WALHDAB) applaud Representative Paul Tittl and Senator Luther Olsen for introducing LRB 2109/1, the Local Health Protection Act. The bill improves our health care infrastructure by providing $2.5 million each year of the 2017-2019 biennium to local health departments to combat communicable diseases.
“The threat of communicable diseases is something residents and public health officials face all too often,” said Sue Kunferman, Director of the Wood County Health Department. “With ever-increasing threats of new and exotic diseases, as well as the re-emergence of known threats, it is important for us to focus more on preventing versus only reacting when facing these threats. Investing in an additional trained workforce is a necessary and important part of prevention when it comes to combating communicable and infectious diseases.”
“Despite limited resources, local public health departments work in our communities every day to provide surveillance and follow up for more than 70 communicable diseases. Often, this work is invisible, but the results are not,” said Linda Conlon, Director of the Oneida County Health Department. “It is time to invest in prevention because our local health departments simply need additional resources to fight communicable diseases. Our residents deserve it and Wisconsin’s health depends on it.”
The Local Health Protection Act dedicates $2.5 million to stable and equitable funding in each year of the biennium for local health departments to prevent and respond to communicable diseases. The proposal directs DHS to create an equitable formula to distribute the funds to local health departments to strengthen prevention and containment measures, such as early detection systems, staff training, disease surveillance and public education. At approximately $1 per capita biennially, the funds move Wisconsin closer to the national norm for state investments in public health.
Investing in prevention not only makes financial sense, but also helps local health departments combat communicable diseases today so the public is healthier tomorrow. Wisconsin ranks 41st in the nation for state public funding for local health departments. The median nationally is $39.32 per capita, but Wisconsin invests only $15.10 per capita. That is why WPHA and WALHDAB are urging the State Legislature to invest $2.5 million in new funding over the 2017-19 biennium to combat and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
WPHA and WALHDAB greatly appreciate the work Senator Olsen and Representative Tittl put into drafting LRB 2109/1 and encourages members of the State Legislature to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation. The deadline to sign on is Wednesday, April 19.
Representing over 1,200 public health professionals statewide, WPHA and WALHDAB are dedicated to promoting and protecting public health in Wisconsin, which is vital to a healthy population, lower health care costs and a thriving economy.