Over the next year, we can anticipate a number of public policy debates that can and should include consideration of how these policies affect the health of communities and advance health equity overall. Below are some of the upcoming national discussions we expect will provide an opportunity to underscore the significance of the social determinants of health.
- Infrastructure and transportation – Congress is gearing up for a debate on and perhaps, ultimately, legislation, aimed at investing in America’s infrastructure. The built environment – where we live, learn, work, travel and play – is an equity issue tied to the many things we think of when we envision healthy, sustainable communities: access to jobs and public transportation, walkable communities with safe places and green spaces for children and families to play, modernized schools, and thriving businesses.
- Access to health care – As the Affordable Care Act comes under scrutiny, equity advocates will be looking at how to ensure that gains in coverage for minority communities are retained regardless of how the program shifts and changes. What will the potential repeal and replace mean for premium subsidies? What will coverage gains through Medicaid look like?
- Farm Bill – While current Farm Bill programs won’t expire until 2018, work has already begun on the next iteration. Potential changes to SNAP (aka food stamps), who benefits from agriculture subsidies, and the school lunch program, to name just a few areas of interest in this far-reaching bill, all have implications for health equity.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s on the horizon, especially to advance systems, environmental and policy changes to improve the health of underserved families and communities. Are you focusing on specific local, state and/or federal policy solutions? Please tweet your ideas to us at @policysolutions and include #healthequity your post.