Counties Support Establishment of Public Health Commission, Want to be Part of the Process

On February 15, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample testified before the Senate Finance Committee in support of SB 0281 – Commission on Public Health – Establishment with amendments.

The House Health and Government Operations Committee considered the bill’s cross-file, HB 0214, on January 26, and has since issued a favorable report.

SB 0281 establishes a Commission on Public Health to make recommendations for improving the delivery of public health services across the state. The bill also requires the Commission to conduct an assessment of Maryland’s response to COVID-19 and overdose deaths, and to racial disparities in maternal mortality and birth outcomes in the State. Because local leaders posess the most nuanced understanding of the unique needs of their jurisdictions, the General Assembly should consider amendments ensuring that the composition and outcomes of the Commission reflect these distinctions.

From the MACo Testimony:

The work of all twenty-four local health departments is responsive to the demand for certain services based on community needs. This variability is reflected in a few ways − from budget distribution and types of clinical specialists on staff to the size and accessibility of the programs offered. Considering the geographic, demographic, and psychographic diversity of our state, the public health needs and services in Allegany County are not the same as those in Anne Arundel County. Recognizing this, counties support amendments offered by the Maryland Association of County Health Officers, to ensure that the composition and outcomes of this commission can sufficiently serve the needs of all Marylanders. Local health departments understand local needs, so it follows that broadened geographic representation from them will benefit the work of this important study. For these reasons, MACo urges a FAVORABLE WITH AMENDMENTS report on SB 281.

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