LPHI 2019 Policy Priorities
LPHI’s mission, vision and our attributes drive us to develop policy priorities that align action for health, and in that we believe federal, state and local policies should ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be healthy.
We recognize that public health outcomes are directly correlated to the implementation of effective policy and that the lack of policy also impacts outcomes.
For the upcoming year, LPHI has identified the following policy priorities and we will be monitoring legislation and policies implemented on the Federal and State levels closely as these arise and evolve through the year.
Comprehensive Sex Education and Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Louisiana currently has some of the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV in the United States including the current syphilis epidemic in Louisiana. Addressing these high rates of STIs and HIV through changing policy has proven successful in other southern states.
On the Federal level, funding decreases to adolescent health and teen pregnancy prevention programs threaten adolescent and reproductive health education in Louisiana. Federal funding is imperative to reducing sexual risk behaviors and improving health outcomes for youth in Louisiana.
Criminal Justice Reform
In 2017, Louisiana passed a ten-bill criminal justice reform package primarily focused on reducing Louisiana’s incarceration rate which is the highest in the nation. Criminal justice reform is an important public health issue due to the impact on the incarcerated individual, families and communities. Early data is demonstrating success of Louisiana’s criminal justice reform plan with programs focusing on job training, substance abuse and re-entry programs and working with juveniles. Louisiana has seen a cost savings of $8.5 million from criminal justice reform to reinvest into these programs.
Medicaid Expansion has been hugely successful in Louisiana with more than 480,000 adults gaining access to health care as a result. Ensuring individuals are able to maintain access to health care without barriers is important to improving health outcomes, including behavior health and addressing the opioid crisis in our state.
On the Federal level, Medicaid Expansion discussions, amendments and court appeals continue to threaten access to health care in Louisiana and across the United States. Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeals in Congress would jeopardize access for Louisiana residents and would harm public health efforts to improve health outcomes in Louisiana.
Healthy children are more successful in school and have better academic outcomes. Yet some Louisiana students report that school breakfast and lunch are their only meals of the day. Access to nutritious meals and snacks throughout the school day as well as at home is an increasing issue in Louisiana.
Minimum Wage Increase
Many families in Louisiana struggle to meet their daily needs such as affordable housing, medical insurance and transportation. Increasing minimum wage will lessen this burden for Louisiana families and have an enormous impact on single family homes. Inability to afford basic necessities is linked to health disparities and increasing minimum wage is a step in the right direction towards achieving health equity.
LPHI to Lead Regional Efforts to Enhance Disaster-Related Health Recovery
LPHI has been chosen to serve as one of five regional technical assistance centers for the Hurricane Response Hub (HRH) initiative led by the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI). Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this national program is designed to enhance disaster-related surveillance and environmental and occupational health recovery efforts in areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria by building disaster-related public health workforce capacity.
Working with a range of state and regional partners, LPHI will serve as the coordinating body within Louisiana to lead public health workforce capacity building activities in disaster-related surveillance, environmental, and occupational health needs.