Bipartisan Policy Center Issues Report on Modernizing U.S. Public Health System

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), in partnership with a series of other coalition groups including the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), this week released its new report “Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System.” The report details a five-year roadmap for public health leaders and elected officials to build a more equitable, robust, and sustainable public health system in the U.S.

Recommendations were formed by a bipartisan task force of current and former governors, mayors, elected representatives, nonprofit, public health, and health care executives. The report sets forth a framework for a 21st century public health system, as well as a series of recommended actions for policy makers and public health leaders.

Recommendations are organized across the following areas with specific action items:

  • Financing – The report establishes a vision of sufficient, predictable, and flexible funding for the public health system, enabling it to sustain healthy communities and act quickly to protect the public from expected and unexpected health issues.
    • Action #1: Provide flexible funding and maximize existing assets to support public health services and capabilities, including those needed to address health inequities.
    • Action #2: Evaluate the social and economic impact of public health programs and strategies.
  • Data and Information Technology – The report outlines a vision of a robust, modern, interoperable, and secure public health information system to deliver real-time, accurate, and actionable data to policy makers, health departments, and other stakeholders to detect new or growing threats, identify groups that may be at risk, and respond quickly with well-targeted policies and programs.
    • Action #1: Strengthen the collection of timely and actionable public health data to guide programs, respond to emergencies, and address health inequities.
    • Action #2: Invest in data sharing between public health departments and health care entities.
  • Workforce – The report details a vision of a highly skilled, trained, and diverse public health workforce to provide evidence-informed programs and services to address community health needs, encourage healthy behaviors, and act swiftly to respond to emerging threats. Staff also feel supported and are incentivized to pursue long careers in governmental public health.
    • Action #1: Invest in the recruitment and retention of a diverse and inclusive governmental public health workforce.
    • Action #2: Improve hiring and promotion policies and processes to ensure high-quality public health services.
  • Public Health Laws and Governance – The report envisions modernized laws, policies, and statutes to protect and promote the public’s health in a manner that reflects ongoing threats and challenges and ensures public health authority remains intact and protected.
    • Action #1: Review, evaluate, and modernize public health governance structures and statutory responsibilities.
    • Action #2: Support and clearly communicate the roles of public health departments to the public.
  • Partnerships – The report sets forth a vision for public health departments to partner with various sectors (e.g., housing, food, transportation) and stakeholders (e.g., faith-based organizations, health care) toward to shared goal of providing a fair and just opportunity for all to achieve good health and wellbeing.
    • Action #1: Incentivize partnerships between public health departments and other sectors.
    • Action #2: Establish a dedicated body charged with routinely monitoring, assessing, and influencing the implications for health in all government sector policy discussions.
  • Community Engagement – The report envisions public health departments partnering with community members toward the shared goal of providing a fair and just opportunity for all to achieve good health and wellbeing.
    • Action #1: Invest in long-term relationship-building and partnership development with residents and community-based organizations and in Tribal consultation
    • Action #2: Invest in the capacity of CBOs and provide resources to support collaboration with public health departments.

The report reiterates the unique opportunity for the sector to reimagine public health in a bipartisan fashion with the goal of an equitable, effective, and sustainable public health system.

The full BPC report is available here.