July 12, 2017

Failed cigar tax leaves statewide Mosaic-linked health initiative without funding

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Patrick Sargent/For Worcester Sun

The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center was a key contributor in the city's efforts related to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund.

BOSTON — A multi-year, multimillion-dollar experiment to lower asthma rates, reduce smoking, and steel elders against the risk of falls appears to be drawing to a close in Massachusetts.

Seeded with a one-time assessment of roughly $60 million from the insurance industry and some healthcare providers, the state Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund has supported nine programs from Barnstable to the Berkshires, including several initiatives in Worcester, since 2014 that aim to reduce the most prevalent and preventable health conditions, address health disparities and increase healthy behaviors.

More than 200 jobs will be lost as funding runs out by December, according to Maddie Ribble, director of public policy and campaign strategy for the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

The temporary funding for the nearly four-year-old program is ending at a time when tax revenues have rolled in slower than previously expected, forcing state government to tighten spending on programs around the state.

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