Public Health Advisory Board Required to Make Budget Request by June

But health officials want to flesh out a compelling vision and plans for sharing resources together with setting a dollar amount to fund public health modernization.

Public health officials have a newly defined set of foundational goals and even tools to see how far they are now from hitting them -- including a calculator for needed dollar amounts to plug into the state’s budget cycle starting this June.

But the newly rejiggered Public Health Advisory Board has not had time yet to put much flesh on the bones of public health modernization. Tricia Tillman, Multnomah County’s public health director, questioned leading with the dollar amount with no compelling vision and with “no meaningful regional conversations” yet.

“It can’t just be about the money” without including plans for shared resources, said Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown of Crook County. Even data-goddess Katrina Hedberg, OHA’s health officer and state epidemiologist said “qualitative parts speak loudest” and suggested examples and stories behind the data would be helpful.

Jeff Luck of Oregon State University agreed. “If the minimum we have to report is the current (dollar) amount and the future amount, we better have a pretty good story.”

Since the passage of HB 3100 modernizing public health, state and local public health departments have been working at a breakneck pace to define foundational capabilities and programs to deliver basic public health services, assess the current status of public health in the 34 local public health departments and the state’s public health division -- - then estimate how far each needs to go to meet the basics.

Jason Hennessy of BERK Consulting, whose firm was hired to create the assessment tool for the process, described it as a “thoroughly new concept to everyone” with each local health department trying to figure out “where things fit.” Where is the line between a program like communicable disease control and a capability like epidemiology? Did everyone put them in the same place?

The self-reported data comes with inherent response biases from 35 organizations, and includes 75,000 pieces of data with 400-500 roles just for local public health departments – such as restaurant inspections and improving health equity.

Carrie Brogoitti of Union County said her budgeting included guesswork and rough estimates but worried more about talking about dollars before a vision and metrics to measure outcomes. ”The CCOs led with the Triple Aim. Early Learning had a vision. Leading with a higher price tag may not get us to where we want to go,” she said.

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