In the context of progressive health policy, Massachusetts is an exciting place to live and work. It is well-known that in 2006, Massachusetts was the first state to mandate that each resident have health insurance – predating the Affordable Care Act by three years. Massachusetts’ role as a frontrunner in the health policy space, however, is far from limited to this one landmark achievement. Massachusetts is a thought-leader in hospital payment oversight, in addressing social determinants of health, and in hospital Community Benefits guidance. A recent Massachusetts innovation was the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) creation of the Determination of Need Statewide Fund as part of DPH’s update to its Determination of Need Regulations.
Determination of Need, or DoN, is the process by which hospitals gain approval for large capital expenditures. DoN approval requires a hospital devote funds toward programs that improve health in the community in which it is located (“Community Health Initiatives”). While this process results in much needed funding for community health programs, prior to 2017, it also meant that this influx of funding was limited to areas in which, often well-resourced hospitals, were undertaking major projects. As part of the updated regulations, DPH created the Statewide Fund into which hospitals embarking on large projects would contribute (this contribution represents a portion of the overall Community Health Initiative dollars committed by the hospital). The Statewide fund would then re-distribute to communities that had not recently benefited Community Health Initiative dollars associated with a large hospital project.
Following the 2017 update, the Department of Public Health convened an Advisory Committee to advise DPH regarding the type of programs that these contributions should fund. Along with individuals representing fourteen organizations, Joe Kriesberg, MACDC’s Executive Director, served on DPH’s Advisory council which ultimately created three funds:
- Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change Fund
- Community Health Improvement Planning Processes Fund
- Healthy Aging Fund
Because the goal of the fund is to distribute funding to areas of the state that have not recently benefited from Determination of Need investments, the funds prioritized projects that benefited communities outside of Boston that have high rates of health inequities. The following six Massachusetts CDCs received funding through this innovative fund: Lawrence CommunityWorks, VietAID, Franklin County CDC, Hilltown CDC, Quaboag Valley CDC, and Harborlight Community Partners. These CDCs, which have relationships in communities across Massachusetts, are in many ways, ideal organizations to partner with DPH in addressing health.
Check out our press release to learn more about the funds CDC projects that DPH will be funding in our press release.