Protecting Public Health Resources in an Uncertain ACA Environment
California’s local health departments are mandated to protect residents from the spread of disease, plan and respond to public health emergencies, promote and encourage healthy behaviors, and protect the health of the community. Furthermore, counties are mandated with providing medical care to indigent population under Section 17000 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
The November 2016 election resulted in Republican control of the House, Senate and Presidency. The President and Republican Congressional leaders have indicated their focus on repealing the ACA and replacing it with an alternative, however details have yet to be confirmed.
Public health funding, which is already largely categorical and has faced substantial decreases over time, would be threatened under a repeal of the ACA. Additionally, the elimination of the ACA and a potential replacement would have significant implications on our county indigent programs, and access to care. Counties would be challenged with having the appropriate level of resources in order to rebuild capacity and ensure access to services.
Local health departments seek to protect scarce resources to fulfill our mandated responsibilities in ensuring the health of our communities.
Promoting the Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention
Violence continues to adversely impact Californians, particularly those in disadvantaged communities at a disproportionate rate. Local health departments are responsible for helping to create and maintain communities that keep people healthy, including the prevention of injuries and violence. Local health departments are leading efforts to address the disproportionate effects of injury and violence in communities of high need and high burden through building safe communities, using data informed approaches and working with key partners on violence prevention strategies. Prevention efforts include reducing risk factors, such as social isolation and lack of economic opportunities; efforts also include promoting or increasing protective factors, such as access to mental health and substance abuse services.
Educating Californians about Adverse Impacts of Cannabis Use
With the passage of Proposition 64 (the Adult Use Marijuana Act), which legalized adult cannabis use, California’s local health departments will focus efforts on preventing cannabis use among youth and urging responsible use among adults. In order to measure the impacts on the health of these populations, local health departments will be actively involved with surveillance efforts. Local health departments advocate for resources to both monitor and educate our communities about the potential harmful public health consequences of legalized cannabis.