ASTHO Executive Director Share: Week of June 18

By Melissa Lewis posted 06-27-2017 11:02 PM


Executive Director Share

Week of June 18, 2017


It was a challenging week in Washington this week as we learned of the Senate’s ACA replacement plans which included elimination of the Public Health and Prevention Fund. We have mobilized our members, alumni, coalition partners and other public health advocates and are now working to understand the timing and technicalities of potential PPHF elimination as well as other facets of the Senate’s draft. Despite our advocacy challenges, we continued to do the great work of supporting our members last week– see below for highlights.


The Week in Review

  • ASTHO Memo on Senate ACA Repeal Draft
  • ASTHO mentioned in Politico Pro and Washington Post articles on Senate’s ACA Repeal Draft
  • ASTHO at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
  • ASTHO Executive Committee Meeting
  • my.ASTHO Launch
  • State Successes for 75th Anniversary – We are 50% to goal!
  • ASTHO State and Territorial Health Agency Profile Planning Meeting
  • SHO Calls
  • Meeting with HHS Intergovernmental and External Affairs Team
  • Public Health Accreditation Board Meeting
  • Meeting with National Association of Substance Abuse, Drug, and Alcohol Directors (NASADAD)
  • ASTHO Sign-On to TFAH Letter Opposing PPHF Elimination
  • ASTHO, NASHP, and de Beaumont Foundation Paper on “Blending, Braiding, and Block Granting”
  • ASTHO Meeting with EPA Office of Research and Development and EPA Office of Wastewater
  • Climate Change Collaborative Webinar
  • CDC Call on Zika Care Connect
  • National Call on State of Safety Reports
  • Road Warrior Staff and Added Fees
  • Kudos
  • The Week Ahead


ASTHO Memo on Senate ACA Repeal Draft

On Friday afternoon, ASTHO sent a memo to all S/THOs and Alumni Society members with a summary of the Senate’s ACA Repeal Draft and action steps to take to weigh in on its impact on public health. ASTHO released a statement expressing our concerns about the repeal of the PPHF and in addition to our statement, we shared a summary of the entire draft legislation from our consultants at Cornerstone Government Affairs. If you did not get the memo and would like a copy, please contact Carolyn Mullen at ASTHO (


ASTHO mentioned in Politico Pro and Washington Post articles on Senate’s ACA Repeal Draft

ASTHO was cited in both Politico Pro and The Washington Post last week in articles on the Senate’s draft ACA replacement bill and its impact on public health. Here’s a link to The Washington Post article. Thanks to Carolyn Mullen, Carolyn McCoy, Jane Esworthy, and the public relations team for the media outreach! This Washington Post article was a goal of mine this year – to position ASTHO as a trusted source for public health news, and we did it!


ASTHO at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

On June 21-22, 2017, ASTHO attended the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in Atlanta. Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) is ASTHO’s member representative and ASTHO staff member Kim Martin also attended the meeting. Discussion topics included hepatitis A vaccine, influenza, herpes zoster vaccine, varicella vaccine, dengue virus vaccine, yellow fever vaccine, mumps disease and vaccine, meningococcal, and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting. One proposed recommendation to include additional footnote information for influenza vaccination of pregnant women was voted on and ultimately passed. This new information will be included in the upcoming 2017/18 flu recommendation guidelines.


ASTHO Executive Committee Meeting The ASTHO Executive Committee will meet via teleconference on Wednesday, June 28 for its routine business meeting. Discussion topics include board meeting debrief, September Events, and operational/business updates. If you would like to see a copy of the agenda, just let me know (


my.ASTHO Launch Thanks to Ariel Lautman, Corey Hughley, and many others who worked to get my.ASTHO up and running this week. The website is a way for us to collaborate internally and will ultimately be the way that we engage members and partners in our work, find member information, share documents, etc. Look for more developments to come and be sure to share your feedback with Corey and Ariel about the communities we are developing online.


State Successes for 75th Anniversary – We are 50% to goal!

As Jane shared last week, we have close to 50 submissions on a variety of topics, including chronic disease, tobacco, maternal and child health, and substance misuse. Kudos to the Community Health and Prevention team for sharing the most story leads so far! Keep up the good work please - the easiest way to submit your stories is by emailing


ASTHO State and Territorial Health Agency Profile Planning Meeting Last week, I had a good meeting with the PIRE team working on the state Profile to discuss plans for publishing our 2016 Profile data and start thinking about future Profile data collection efforts (and grant proposals!) Thanks to the PIRE team for their great ideas and willingness to consider new options for how we learn about our members and their agencies.


SHO Calls

One of the best parts of my job is the chance to learn more about our members through one-on-one calls with our SHOs. Last week I had calls with Kim Malsam-Rydson (SHO-SD), Catherine Hiegel (SHO-SC), Lance Himes (SHO-OH), and Maggie Walters (SHO-FSM). We discussed opportunities to become more engaged in ASTHO and what some of their interests and passions for public health are so that we can better meet both SHO and agency needs and priorities.


Meeting with HHS Intergovernmental and External Affairs Team

On Tuesday, Carolyn McCoy, Carolyn Mullen, and I met with the new leadership of HHS’ Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) and Senior Advisor James Mason. The meeting was an opportunity to learn more about Jane Norton (Alumni-CO) who is the IEA director and Darcie Johnston, director of intergovernmental affairs. Following the meeting with the IEA team, we met with Tom Novotny, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health for Science and Medicine, and his team. There was interest in having the Secretary visit a public health department. There is an upcoming listening session with Secretary Price and national associations. There was quite a bit of discussion about the impact of the opioid crisis on states – more to come for sure.


Public Health Accreditation Board Meeting On Tuesday afternoon, I had the chance to meet with the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) and share some of ASTHO’s perspectives on state and territorial health agency accreditation. ASTHO will be updating its accreditation policy statement and seeking member approval at the Assembly of Members meeting in September. Thanks to Donna Marshall and her team for sharing some great talking points and background information for my visit. On Wednesday, I attended the PHAB Open Session and listened to several presentations on research, evaluations, and plans for PHAB’s “2.0” standards.


Meeting with National Association of Substance Abuse, Drug, and Alcohol Directors (NASADAD) On Tuesday, Zarnaaz Bashir and I met with Rob Morrison and several of his team at NASADAD to share our draft “national opioid strategy” and think through how they might use the strategy with their membership and partner groups. We discussed the need to prioritize evidence-based interventions and identify best and promising practices from among the many tactical interventions in our strategy. More to come as we begin to prepare a draft for staff, members, and others to review.


ASTHO Sign-On to TFAH Letter Opposing PPHF Elimination

Last week, ASTHO joined the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) in a sign-on letter to the Senate opposing the repeal of the Prevention and Public Health Fund. A prior letter sent by TFAH had over 540 organizations signed on; TFAH hopes for that number or greater in the updated version.


ASTHO, NASHP, and de Beaumont Foundation Paper on “Blending, Braiding, and Block Granting”

A collaboration between ASTHO, NASHP, and the de Beaumont Foundation has resulted in the development of a document we can use to support public health policymakers and help them better understand the implications of federal changes on state public health programs. It seeks to address the following questions:

  • What are the key issues for state public health officials considering the potential changes to the scope and structure of Medicaid and public health funding?
  • How could state officials capitalize on a federal drive toward increased cross-program integration and flexibility to strengthen public health programs?
  • What tools and policy levers would help state officials optimize federal funding streams to support public health goals? 

NASHP will be drafting the document that will first give an overview of the use of block grants and categorical funding in support of state public health goals, as well as Medicaid waiver authorities that support public health. It will then posit three potential state responses to possible federal funding scenarios, focusing on potential changes to federal CDC funding. Finally, it will conclude with policy questions for state public health policymakers to consider as they seek to promote the health of their populations as effectively as possible in the face of federal proposals. Stay tuned for more!


ASTHO Meeting with EPA Office of Research and Development and EPA Office of Wastewater Last week, ASTHO convened an informal in-person meeting with Lisa Matthews from EPA’s Office of Research and Development to discuss our new EPA-funded CIO risk communication project. ASTHO will collect case studies regarding Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) health advisories in states and territories and develop a risk communication toolkit for PFAS and the broader class of PFCs. ASTHO staff also met with EPA staff to discuss the decentralized wastewater management memorandum of understanding between EPA and partner organizations.


Climate Change Collaborative Webinar Also last week, ASTHO convened a webinar for its Climate Change Collaborative, which includes state health department staff receiving CDC Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) funding as well as staff from non-funded states. The webinar featured a presentation from the Oregon Health Authority on their new “Climate and Health Resilience Plan.” Staff from the Oregon Climate and Health Program described interventions that are now being implemented and how some of these projects and findings can inform efforts to integrate climate considerations into public health practice, regardless of designated funding for climate-specific work.


CDC Call on Zika Care Connect

On Friday, ASTHO convened a call with CDC and leadership from 10 states (AZ, IL, LA, MA, NM, NC, OH, PA, TN, and WA) that will now be included as a second cohort forZika Care Connect. Zika Care Connect provides a searchable network of healthcare professionals who care for patients affected by Zika. These healthcare professionals receive the latest medical information from CDC that enables them to care for patients with Zika based on the most up-to-date information. The Healthcare Professional Network is a key feature of Zika Care Connect. More information can be found at  We will follow-up with the State Health Officials of the 10 states to obtain point of contact information so that CDC can coordinate with our members as this effort moves forward.


National Call on State of Safety Reports

Also on Friday, ASTHO convened a teleconference to discuss the National Safety Council's State of Safety reports. ASTHO convened speakers from the National Safety Council and Safe States Alliance, an ASTHO Affiliate. If you would to learn more about the report and what was discussed on the call, contact Zarnaaz Bashir here at ASTHO (


Road Warrior Staff and Added Fees

A staff member asked this question via the water cooler last week: “Does ASTHO pay for a TSA precheck subscription and/or for access to an airline lounge for frequent travelers? Also, airlines are different in their services and fees, do we offer some flexibility for something like “seats with more leg room," or "early check-in," if the airline chosen doesn't charge for bags - sort of an exchange in fees. Just wondering about making travel a little easier for the road warriors.”


I am all about making travel a little easier for road warriors! I have asked John Mericsko to determine what is allowable using federal dollars. Unfortunately, there are many restrictions on what we can use travel funds for, and currently club fees, any sort of “upgrade fee” (including more leg room seats), and other “add-ons” are not allowable as we understand the regulations. We will check, however, to make sure that is the case. We could also consider different credit cards for ASTHO that might include some of these add-ons as part of their services. However, we would most likely have to choose one airline for all ASTHO business to maximize benefits and that is not allowable either (we must go with lowest fares whenever possible). The bottom line is this: we will investigate it and whatever we can legally do, we will. Thanks for asking. In the meantime, thank you for suffering with the airlines – I know what it is like to be on the road and appreciate your time spent in travel (and with members when you get there!)



Thanks to Melissa Ferguson, our EMT members, and ASTHO’s board for a great board meeting! We received these kudos last week from a key CDC partner: “… great board meeting last week.  Melissa F. and her team did a great job… I told Mike it was the best ASTHO board meeting I have been to so far!


Our PIRE team received these kudos for their work on the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant evaluation project:

 As we are drawing to a close on the fourth year of the PHHS Block Grant measurement work, we wanted to send you note with our appreciation for the strong partnership Maggie and KaRon have demonstrated with our PHHS Block Grant evaluation team this year. Maggie has been extremely responsive and accommodating of tight timelines with the survey development, as well as on top of all aspects of the webinar logistics and keeping the ICF work moving. She has been organized, communicative, and timely in following up on action items. KaRon’s initiative in working through programming challenges with the measurement survey is above and beyond and truly appreciated. The CDC team have enjoyed the collaboration with Maggie and KaRon, and look forward to continuing the partnership into year five.



The Week Ahead


Monday, June 26 – Internal meetings; SHO call with Karen Smith (SHO-CA); and call with Tom Miller (SHO-AL).


Tuesday, June 27 – Meet with ASTHO senior directors on communications updates; Dr. Rachel Levine visit to ASTHO (Surgeon General, PA); meet with Rob Morrison and Dr. Levine; Dr. Levine discussion with staff; and meet with Topher Spiro, Center for American Programs (Washington, D.C.).


Wednesday, June 28 – Discussion with CDC Econ-Aid lead re: ASTHO support for economic analysis/impact; meet with Dennis Lenaway (retired CDC OSTLTS); and ASTHO Executive Committee Meeting (5 p.m. EDT).


Thursday, June 29 – SHLI finalist presentations (Washington, D.C.).


Friday, June 30 – Final SHLI reviewer meeting; and All-S/THO call.


Michael Fraser, PhD MSMSL CAE FCPP
Executive Director,
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials