November 3, 2016 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

The American Public Health Association (APHA) adopted 11 new policy statements which will guide its work in the coming years. They include:

Raising the minimum wage: The policy calls on states to increase their minimum wage, index the minimum wage to inflation, and prohibit state-government preemption of municipal minimum wage policies. Among other things, the new APHA policy also recommends research on the effects of living wages on public assistance budgets.

Reducing exposure to highly fluorinated chemicals: The policy calls on Congress to fund research on alternatives to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). The compounds are used in clothing and other consumer product to make them waterproof, stain-resistant, or non-stick. The new APHA policy also urges the implementation of protective drinking water advisories and development of mitigation strategies in the event of releases of PFASs.  Among other things, APHA calls on federal and state officials to require labeling of products that contain PFASs.

Improving oral health for persons with developmental disabilities: The policy calls on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to require state funding to cover dental services for adults living with such disabilities, and on the Health Resources and Services Administration to increase access to federally qualified health clinics for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. APHA notes that people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities typically experience poorer oral health outcomes than people without such disabilities.

In addition, APHA adopted a “late-breaker” policy statement on law enforcement violence. The policy calls for a public health strategy to prevent police violence against the public. Lethal and other encounters with the police disproportionately involve people of color and people in marginalized communities. The public health strategy would involve: decriminalization of non-violent crime, robust police accountability measures, increased investment in racial and economic equity policies, and community-based alternatives for addressing harms and preventing violence and crime. The policy also calls on Congress to fund research on the health consequences of police violence, and encourages government agencies to eliminate policies and practices that lead to disproportionate violence against specific populations.

The complete policy statements, which include evidence-based descriptions of the problem and recommendation will be available on-line in early 2017.


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