Lyons Calls for Reform at Department of Public Health

State Rep. Jim LyonsBOSTON – This Department of Public Health is in desperate need of top-to-bottom reform,” said Rep. Jim Lyons.

“The DPH acts like bureaucratic bullies, when it deals with families and school children,” Lyons noted about the state agency mandating that so-called “BMI Fat Letters” single-out particular students. “At the same time, this bureaucracy has manifestly failed to protect public health and public safety in its disastrous lack of oversight of pharmaceutical manufacturers and its mishandling of state drug labs.”

Lyons has introduced a bill called “An Act to Protect the Privacy of Children” to begin the reform process and end bureaucratic overreach. The amendment will prevent the bureaucracy from mandating the collection of the Body Mass Index data of individual students.

“Parents started contacting me,” Lyons said. “They were concerned about bureaucratic interference in families. Mothers and fathers were asking: `How does this stigmatizing by an intrusive state bureaucracy help to educate our children?’”

Having worked to reform the DPH on Beacon Hill, Lyons pointed to this unfunded mandate as another example of the insensitivity to families and overall ineptness that permeates the bureaucracy. “Here is another attempt by the Patrick Administration to micromanage local communities,” Lyons said.

“I am disappointed that Governor Patrick has consistently opposed our efforts to increase Local Aid, which is essential to our schools. Meanwhile, his bureaucracy burdens our communities with additional state mandates that are neither justified nor funded.”

Lyons emphasized the need for reform at the Department of Public Health. The Andover representative noted the frequent news reports spotlighting the complete lack of oversight at the DPH. The DPH completely mismanaged the state drug testing labs, a blunder already is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. This gross mismanagement puts public safety in jeopardy, because it is likely to result in overturning many criminal convictions; it simultaneously undermines the justice system by facilitating false convictions.

The Department of Public Health failed its responsibility to inspect pharmaceutical drug manufacturers in the Massachusetts. The ineptitude on the part of the DPH has cost patients across the country their health and even their lives.

“Where does an Administration that has mishandled matters vital to public health and public safety,” asked Lyons, “have the arrogance to interfere in family life and burden local communities?

“It’s time for the Patrick Administration’s DPH to focus on its core mission of protecting public health and safety,” Lyons stressed. “It’s time to reform the agency and clean up its poor record of mismanagement.

“I think we can all agree,” Lyons concluded, “that parents, families, and local schools are far more responsible, dependable, and conscientious than this intrusive state bureaucracy.”