Governor Inslee sends a letter to Congress asking for investments in public health as part of the “American Employment Plan”

Governor Inslee sends a letter to Congress asking for investments in public health as part of the “American Employment Plan”

Washington State is ready to act quickly upon the availability of federal dollars, and I urge your strong consideration of these strategic investment priorities as you shape legislation. These thirteen categories represent our highest priorities in this process, though they are not intended to diminish other worthy proposals you may receive in the months ahead. I am particularly pleased that President Biden will make additional proposals in the coming weeks to aid workers, families, and children and strongly support their inclusion in infrastructure legislation.” In his letter, Inslee points to 13 areas that are a priority to the state. But says that these 13 areas are just the focus of Washington’s infrastructure development. The letter also says that America has underinvested in its foundational public health infrastructure, pointing to the fact that between 1980 and 2019 per capita expenditures on personal health grew by almost $9,000 while governmental public health activities only increased by $270. 

According to the White House website: 

The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure and position the United States to out-compete China. Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40%t since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.” The Morning Wire: Keeping you informed on politics, policies, and personalities of Washington State.

The investments to public health would go to state capital budget programs to allow agencies to undertake projects that will address social determinants of health, which Inslee says “will simultaneously create and protect jobs.” There would also be investments into updating and upgrading facilities to strengthen infection control in medical facilities and make them more energy efficient.  There will also be investments into strengthening public health data management and into training and retraining health care workers at all levels, particularly in childcare, behavioral health and long-term care. Inslee asked for investments from the federal government not only in one-time capital investments, but also predictable, sustained increases in funds. He said the result would lead to modernized care, improved outcomes, especially for disproportionately impacted communities and prepare the state for the next pandemic.

The costs of that underinvestment have been starkly illustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when stockpile shortages, insufficient testing, and inadequate surveillance left frontline healthcare workers and patients without the treatment and tools to fight the disease. Washington State has committed to improving care in recent years, including by working to integrate behavioral and mental health with physical health.” Inslee says in the letter that this has been exacerbated by the pandemic, but that the state is committed to improving its public health capabilities.

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