Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Texas Public Health Coalition Announces 2013 Legislative Agenda

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), chair of the House Committee on Public Health, joined with the Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC), Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton), Texas physicians, and Texas legislators and their staff to discuss public health priorities for the 2013 legislative session. To save money and save lives, TPHC identified several ways legislators can improve the state’s immunization rates, reduce tobacco use, and prevent obesity and cancer to ensure a healthy Texas.

Eduardo Sanchez, MD, Dallas family physician and chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, expressed how important it is for Texas to invest in public health initiatives now for the future health of Texans and the state budget.

Among TPHC public health priorities are:
  1. Immunizations: Support strong state immunization registry to monitor vaccinations and immunization policies for workers at early-childhood centers.
  2. Tobacco Use: Support statewide smoke-free legislation in all indoor workplaces and oppose efforts to label smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products as less harmful than smoking tobacco.
  3. Obesity: To get Texans moving and eating healthy, support physical education and health class requirements in high school, employee wellness programs in state facilities and agencies, and helping schools help students make healthy choices.
  4. Cancer Prevention: Because cancer prevention and early detection are essential components to reduce the incidence of cancer in Texas, support ensuring access to breast and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured women and evidence-based activities to reduce tobacco use.
“These are common-sense, bread and butter, health-improving solutions that can not only save lives but quite frankly, save money,” said Dr. Sanchez.

Adding her support to TPHC’s mission to prevent cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses, Representative Crownover discussed smoke-free workplace legislation she plans to file this session. “A person should not have to choose between their health and their job,” she said.

Representative Kolkhorst outlined her own public health priorities, many of which overlap TPHC’s. “There are sensible ways to improve outcomes in health,” she said. “I think that it is time for us all to come together, put our politics aside, and work in a common direction.”

TPHC consists of more than 26 organizations dedicated to advancing core public health principles at the state and community levels. The coalition represents the voice of the Texas health care community on matters that impact the public most, and ensures policymakers have the tools they need to make wise and balanced public health policy.

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