HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

“Let’s Make America Healthy Again!”

Posted on | August 8, 2017 | No Comments

Source: SSRS

Mike Magee

As the Democrats continue to angst over messaging and a platform to appeal to America’s middle class, the answer is staring them right in the face. A poll this week by SSRS made it abundantly clear. But before I go into that, let me provide a winning banner for the 2018 election: “Let’s Make America Healthy Again!”

The opinion polling on Trump above shows clearly that the President’s approval has broadly eroded over the past 200 days across the board. But nowhere is this more evident and more conclusive than in health care policy where 62% disapprove and only 31% remain in the Trumpcare corner. As interesting, but not surprising is the close runner-up and mirror for disapproval – “helping the middle-class”.

The economic case for moving progressively  toward a universal, centrally administered/locally delivered system of health care has already been made by Warren Buffett and others. The potential savings are indisputable, and the gains in worker productivity, mobility, and family security could be transformational.

But if you were a governor of a state, let’s say like Ohio, how might you approach answering the question “How do I make Ohio healthy again?” Your first instinct might be to reactively throw all your resources at the raging opioid epidemic, but that would ignore a wide range of other priorities and opportunities.

You might take a moment to consider what you mean by health in the broadest terms rather than health care. If you were a seasoned leader, with strong ties to your community and public service flowing through your veins, you likely would conclude that health is an active state of wellbeing that encompasses mind, body and spirit. It is the capacity to reach one’s full human potential, and, on a larger scale, your own state’s potential for development.

As a governor, you might take the time to read the latest National Academy of Medicine publication “Building Sustainable Financing Structures for Population Health: Insights from Non-Health Sectors”, and highlight in yellow: “Health is often a side benefit of policy programs in other sectors”.

You would certainly want to take a moment to absorb one expert voice’s plea that “Many of the challenges that people face in the area of economic development and in realizing individual potential are health-related issues. For example, health care can be an invisible barrier to success in school performance.”

Having spent so much time in town meetings and walking the neighborhoods of your state, the words of another contributor would have to resonate: “The context in which people live affects health. There are numerous social determinants of health within one’s neighborhood – concentrated poverty, crime, walkable neighborhoods, the ability to exercise, access to healthy food.”

You would take a moment to reflect on the insight that the benfits of investments in the social determinants of health may not immediately ease a parent’s struggle but will change the trajectory of their children.  “Have I considered  a long enough horizon?”, you might ask yourself.

That horizon is effected not simply by the learning environment, nutrition and safety, but also by the physical environment. As the report declares, enlightened leaders “understand that everything they breathe at home and everything that comes through their pipes matters to their health.”

Finally, you would likely see in health, a broader call to action in the report’s words: “It is important to take a holistic look and realize that when making environmental changes, school changes, or economic changes, the capacity of the people in those communities must also be increased. They need to have or develop the agency, the voice, the leadership, and the capacity to govern their lives and become self-sufficient at a higher level because they are now living and working and trying to succeed in a new environment.”

Highlighting those final words, the governor – Republican or Democrat – might suddenly realize, “This is it – the unifying theme I’ve been searching for.” And standing to engage the next round of leaders who have just arrived at your state house doors, you might be overheard silently mumbling to yourself, “Let’s make America healthy again. I like the ring of that.”

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