State and Territorial Health Officials Virtually Advocate for Public Health Funding

March 03, 2021

ARLINGTON, VA—Today, members from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) gathered virtually to provide members of Congress with an update on the COVID-19 response in their states and territories and to discuss how federal funding is being used in state, territorial, and local health departments. Territorial health officials also urged Congress to develop a long-term solution to Medicaid financing for the U.S. territories and renew the Compacts of Free Association for the Freely Associated States.

“We are grateful for the continued partnership with Congress and the administration as we work collaboratively to combat the ongoing pandemic. It is critical that public health leaders build strong relationships with their federal delegation so policymakers can make informed decisions regarding federal legislation and funding for COVID-19 specifically, but also other public health impacting the health of all Americans,” says Michael Fraser, CEO of ASTHO. “We view ASTHO’s Hill Day as a mechanism to further strengthen existing and forge new connections with the federal government; in fact using a virtual platform has led to a record number of visits with Congressional offices and we are thrilled by the interest in our members’ work.”

“For too long, public health has been underfunded and undervalued. Historically, we have been funded in a feast or famine cycle—when an emergency strikes, the funding spikes,” says Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD, ASTHO president and director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “It is our hope that Congress and the administration will support innovative programs, strategies, and funding to provide a long-term sustained investment in federal, state, territorial, and local public health. Doing so will strengthen our workforce, enhance preparedness, and bolster public health infrastructure so we can truly achieve our collective mission to advance health equity and optimal health for all.”

More information on ASTHO’s 2021 advocacy priorities is available online.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.