Ball Janik LLP partner and senior trial lawyer, Richard J. Stone, has been asked to lead an 18-month effort to develop the business case for increased state investment in public health. Thomas Aschenbrener, Chair of The Oregon Public Health Advisory Board, gave Mr. Stone the assignment at the Public Health Board’s December meeting.
Noting that Oregon ranks 41st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in public health investment, Mr. Aschenbrener underscored the importance of the task. “In a time of economic crisis and shrinking public funding, the case must be made for public health funding in Oregon.”
Mr. Stone, who frequently has been asked to lead difficult public projects, readily accepted the challenge. “I welcome this opportunity to develop the business case for increased state investment in public health,” he said. “Public health is all about cost-effective population-based strategies to promote health and wellness. We depend heavily on such strategies to keep our water clean, reduce exposure to environmental threats, immunize against preventable diseases, prevent epidemics, and prepare for natural or human-caused disasters.”
Acknowledging that such strategies are largely unseen by the public-and therefore taken for granted-Mr. Stone cautioned that “insufficient public health resources are expensive in terms of reduced quality of life, unnecessary illness and death, lost productivity, disability and its consequent dependency and social cost, racial, ethnic and cultural health disparities, and a mounting price tag for avoidable treatment.”
“We need to explain the costs and benefits of making this investment in terms that everyone can understand,” Mr. Stone said. “If we can do that, I am confident that Oregon will increase its investment in public health.”