87: 2022 Public Health Policy Agenda

ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marcus Plescia says even though everyone is tired of the pandemic, we can’t give up fighting the virus now; ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser, along with two other public health leaders, says the pandemic has been difficult but...

ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marcus Plescia says even though everyone is tired of the pandemic, we can’t give up fighting the virus now; ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser, along with two other public health leaders, says the pandemic has been difficult but also has offered several valuable lessons; and ASTHO’s Director of State Health Policy, Maggie Davis, previews ASTHO’s annual series of policy papers for member states and territories due out in January.

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ASTHO News Release: ASTHO Unveils Top 10 Public Health State Policy Issues to Watch in 2022

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Friday, December 17th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


Renewed concern this morning about a growing number of COVID-19 infections has some universities moving final exams online and many public and private schools closing early for the holidays. Meanwhile, HHS says one in six hospitals are reporting staff shortages due to new admissions.

As we approach the two year anniversary of the pandemic, it's understandable people are tired of the virus and everything about it; but ASTHO chief medical officer, Dr. Marcus Plescia, says we can't give up now.


It's been a travail. It's been a very difficult time.

But, you know, it's at times like these when societies and individuals show their strength and, you know, we really are at a place now where that's what it's going to take. We're going to have to decide that we have the fortitude and that we have the strength as a society to see our way through this.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, I would say. I mean, this is going to be with us for a while, but things are getting better and you know, we're in a much better position; and so, that should give people some hope. But we've got to stick with it a little bit longer, or we're really going to see some dire consequences.


Plescia made the comments in an interview with Robert Jennings, host of Public Health Speaks, a podcast produced by the National Public Health Information Coalition. Hear the full conversation, coming soon everywhere you stream audio.


A trio of public health leaders says the pandemic has been difficult, but also has offered several valuable lessons.

Writing in a joint statement posted online, ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser, Association of Immunization Managers executive director Claire Hannan, and public health consultant Brent Ewig cite convenience, humility, global action, and trust as key to success against the COVID-19 virus.

Read the full article using the link in the show notes.


Finally this morning, COVID-19 impacts every aspect of life and the 2022 Public Health Policy Agenda reflects that reality. ASTHO's annual series of policy papers for member states and territories outlines the top issues to watch in the new year. The organization's director of state health policy, Maggie Davis, previews the agenda in today's morning conversation.

ASTHO's ramping up its work on its annual deep dive into the policy issues members can expect to engage in the new year. What issues made the list for 2022?


We're currently working on 10 issue prospectuses for 2022. Notably, we do not have a separate prospectus for COVID because what we found after 2021—when we had a prospectus on COVID—COVID has really become interwoven into all 10 of these issues.

So, the 10 issues that we've identified as our top policy areas for 2022 at the state level are public health authority, immunization, mental health, data, health equity, workforce, HIV, PFAS, e-cigarettes, and rural health.


So, what will we find in each brief?


So, each brief will provide a high-level overview of the policy area, as well as two to three legislative trends that we've identified from previous sessions or bills that have already been pre-filed for 2022, as well as a looking ahead section for what we anticipate the legislatures will do for 2022. For example, our immunization prospectus—we've already identified over 50 bills related to immunization that are talking about additional exemptions to current immunization requirements, more restrictions on the type of immunization requirements you can have, as well as some pro-immunization legislation that will make it easier for a person to access immunization.


How do you hope these documents will help members?


Our members can use these documents to help educate the legislators within their jurisdictions, and they can help give those legislators a general idea of both the topic as well as what other states are doing.

Legislators tend to have various backgrounds and very tight timelines, limited resources; and this is a way for our members to be able to succinctly describe what a public health issue is, why that legislator might need to care about it, and give them a sense of where they fit in with the rest of the country.


The papers will be released in January. Each is designed as a convenient one-page handout for members who want to use them in meetings with local lawmakers.

Find a link to an ASTHO news release with more detail about the upcoming policy paper series in the show notes.


That'll do it for today's report.


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Be sure to join us again Monday morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great weekend.


Marcus Plescia MD MPH

Chief Medical Officer, ASTHO

Maggie Davis JD MA PMP

Director, State Health Policy, ASTHO