While the hill was abuzz with budget talk, the Senate voted bills off the floor supporting local public health. First, and most excitedly, HB 1497 – foundational public health services (FPHS) passed with a 44-1 (4 absent) vote! This is a tremendous show of bi-partisan support for governmental public health, particularly local public health.
WSAC and WSALPHO advocated heavily on this bill – testifying in hearing in both the House and Senate. The bill is now off to the Governor’s Office for his signature. As FPHS funding was included in Inslee’s proposed budget, we expect him to sign HB 1497.
What does the bill mean once it’s law?
First, the bill replaces the framework and definitions of the Public Health Improvement Plan (PHIP) which is an outdated model of implementing public health programs by the Department of Health. It in its place is the FPHS framework and definitions.
Second, the bill outlines how the governmental public health system should deliver services in ways that maximize efficiency and effectiveness of investment and resources.
Third – and most importantly – it establishes a collaborative and shared process for funding and policy decisions between state and local partners with consultation from tribes.
What’s next for FPHS?
Funding! An important part of implementing FPHS is adequately funding FPHS. The Governor’s budget included $22 million of on-going funding for public health – as did the House. This is a small step toward filling large gaps of service and programs in local health jurisdictions.
Right after the HB 1497 floor vote was a vote on HB 1074 – known as Tobacco 21. This bill would raise the legal purchase age of tobacco to 21 years of age. It also increases state support for tobacco prevention programs in youth. Several local health jurisdictions implement youth tobacco prevention programs in partnership with schools and community agencies.
This bill has had a strong coalition of public health advocates including governmental agencies, health care, and hospitals, community groups, and schools. Tobacco 21 passed out of the floor on a vote of 33-12 (4 absent). This issue has been a top priority of the Governor, a number of legislators, and the Department of Health for several sessions. It is also expected that the Governor will sign HB 1074.