Takeaways from Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) Annual Meeting & Expo, Worcester, MA November 29, 2017

picture taken at DCU Center, Worcester, MA

Can Health Care Treat Inequity? Organizing for a Health System that Tackles Social Determinants https://mapublichealth.org/upcoming-events/

1. (Highlight) Intersection between health and health care. [Addressed by Jessica Collins, MPHA Board President]

2. Place matters. Zip code indicates the quality of lives based on income level, access to grocery, transportation, built environment, community services and social network, infrastructure, educational attainment, housing, neighborhood, socioeconomic status, healthcare delivery etc. [Addressed by Monica Bharel, Massachusetts Department of Public Health]

3. Change culture. Shift paradigm and set low-bar. It is important to understand what matters the most to vulnerable populations by using life-course community-based participatory approach. Be aware of redlining, such as how things happened

to certain populations and the importance of filling gaps by changing narrative.

4. Examine upstream health interventions and invest in downstream circumstances. Essentially is a collective effort to increase accountability, which including using (health disparity) data patterns and maps to address in particularly to preventable chronic disease, mental health issues, and social determinants of health (SDOH).

5. Information inequity contributes to health inequality due to disconnected communications, social services and community resources and varied populations’ live experiences. Therefore, public engagement is the key to mitigate impact of SDOH on health and cost of care.

Notes on breakout session: What are Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and Can They Meaningfully Address Social Determinants? (Presented by Alyssa Vangeli, Health Care for All; Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association)

picture taken at DCU Center, Worcester, MA

Features of MassHealth ACO Program (con’t)

  • Risk Adjustment [Model developed by Dr. Arlene Ash of UMass Medical School]
  • Social Determinants Screening
  • Community Partner Program
  • Flexible Services Program (Including 1.Transition services for individuals transitioning from institutional settings into community settings; 2. Home and community-based services to divert individuals from institutional placements; 3. Maintain a safe and healthy living environment; 4. Physical activity and nutrition; 5. Experience of violence support; 6. Other individual goods and services)
  • Support for Community Health Workers
  • Social Services Integration Work Group
  • Goals: Data Transparency; Maximum impacts possibilities on preventive care; Greater focus on chronic disease prevention and management; Collaborate with public health and community leaders to change underlying SDOH.
  • “It will be largely up to consumers and their advocates to ensure the impact is positive.”
picture taken at DCU Center, Worcester, MA


I care about healthy food equity and human rights. During the Panel and Participant Q&A: Can Health Care Treat Inequity session (moderated by Nancy Norman, Medical Director of Integration at Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership), one participant from the audience addressed her initiatives and concerns about the dual problems of wasted food and hunger. She spoke her experiences of working as an individual physician and her observations between fresh food and health. She wanted to not only help her patients know how to eat healthy but also propel them engage with gleaning, which is an act of harvesting high-quality leftover produce from local farms.

It is true that food distribution especially for fruits and vegetables ended up leaving out on the farms is a blind spot for the majority of people.
“Up to 20% of the food grown on farms is never harvested.” (Boston Area Gleaners) Yet, this issue is rarely being brought up in the conversations around health equity. What we put into our bodies eventually turn into energy that serves for our health.

Food is an essential building block of energy. Energy creates change. Change is not just a set
of agenda which individuals could always speak about, but as actual inner and outer energy
environments to support civic engagement.


  • How to transform facts/policy implementation into story? 
  • In terms of quality measures, what are the criteria have been applied to adjust flexible services domain and why?

                                MPHA Policy Agenda 2017-2018

  • Access to Healthy Affordable Food
  • Healthy Built Environment 
  • Universal Public Health Protections
  • Economic Justice
  • Community Health Integration

                                           Cross-Cutting Goals:

  • Integrating Health Into All policies
  • Reducing Poverty
  • Combating Institutional Racism

                                  Related Information and Resources

Leave a Reply