Public Health is critical for healthy and thriving communities. Last year, the legislature demonstrated its support for public health through the passage of the Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) bill and a $22 million appropriation. This was a great initial investment in reinforcing our public health system.
A strong public health system is vital to protect our communities from public health threats. Communicable disease programs must exist in every jurisdiction in order to effectively control the spread of disease in our state. Using FPHS funding, local health jurisdictions are utilizing this funding to fill critical gaps in responding to disease outbreaks like Hepatitis A, strengthening local ability to mobilize community health coalitions, and improving case management on Hepatitis C and STDs.
However, with the Governor’s Executive Order and State Board of Health Emergency ban on flavored vapor products, a key revenue source for foundational public health services – vapor tax revenue – essentially went away. This significant shortfall puts our local communicable disease programs at risk of losing gains in service and local capacity. These are vital services that local government is responsible for providing to every community across Washington, and keeping outbreaks control and contained.
It is crucial that the legislature addresses this revenue shortfall, estimated at $10.5 million, and works to fully fund foundational public health services through stable and sustainable revenue sources.