Broaden Regulatory Scope

Broaden Regulatory Scope
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How Can We Broaden Regulatory Scope?

Broaden the administrative and regulatory scope of public health and other agency practices to advance health equity (Read actions you can take below)

Local health departments have regulatory, administrative, and enforcement oversight over many issues. In some cases, the oversight authority exists (e.g., health analyses in environmental impact review), but the powers are unused or are interpreted in a very limited manner.

Departments can leverage their untapped powers by reading and interpreting public health law to identify ways to take action as a health agency, and then seeking legal counsel to ensure the interpretation is defensible. In many other cases, other agencies are responsible for social determinants policy — like housing, transportation, or planning — even though policies, programs, and practices in these sectors affect health and equity.

Aside from building alliances with other government agencies, local health departments should expand their regulatory and enforcement power to ensure communities have safer living and working conditions. For example, departments may be able to protect communities who face health risks from unscrupulous employers, landlords, business owners, and others.

Actions to Advance Equity Using This Practice

Your leadership, staff, and department can take the following actions to broaden regulatory scope:

  • Identify, develop, and implement approaches and policies to expand the department’s statutory authority around health, particularly in ways that expand responsibility around social determinants
  • Support the revision of statutes, regulations, and codes that govern local health departments to ensure non-discrimination in the distribution of public health benefits and interventions
  • Influence other agencies’ policies and decisions that affect the social and economic conditions required for health. Promote public investments in community infrastructure that sustain and improve community health and decrease inequities
  • Incorporate goals, language, and data about health equity and the social and economic conditions necessary for health into city/county/state’s plans, budgets, assessments, and other strategic documents
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