Population Health Blog

Population Health Blog

Why It Matters

Fix the (social) potholes!

By Dennis Archambault

Throughout the primary election the overstated campaign issue was “fix the potholes.”  It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that this is a metaphor for fixing or strengthening the state’s physical infrastructure. What about the social infrastructure?

The Citizens Research Council has released a report  (https://crcmich.org/an-ounce-of-prevention-what-public-health-means-for-michigan/)  that documents the drop in spending on public health in Michigan, pushing the state to the bottom in per-capita public health expenditures. You’d think that the Flint disaster would have prompted greater debate about the need for a stronger public health system, and specifically “health in all policies,” which could have prevented, or certainly minimized the damaged caused by poor government oversight.

According to the CRC report, Michigan has seen a worst-in-the-nation outbreak of Hepatitis A, numerous outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, an infant mortality rate well above the national average, and above average prevalence of chronic disease.

The report notes that the state has spent just enough to match federal public health funding, leaving local health department scrambling for funds to do little more than their required duties.

Why wouldn’t this be a campaign issue? Why is it that public health is seldom even mentioned in policy debates?

Eric Lupher, president of the CRC, concludes, “While the state has been engaged in a very successful Pure Michigan campaign to promote the state as a place to live, work, and play, its neglect of public health services creates negative press that often washes out the benefits of the promotional campaign. It detracts from the state’s investments in workforce development and job training. And it inflates healthcare costs that are high to begin with.”

Dennis Archambault is vice president, Public Affairs, at Authority Health.

The next generation of lower income seniors face a perilous future, which is bound to impact population health.

By Dennis Archambault

Advocates of low income housing are anticipating a “tsunami” as gentrification pushes existing low income tenants out of rental properties, more people losing their homes due to the collapse of their household income, and fiscally unprepared people retiring – some earlier than expected. The latter is a particularly acute problem as the Boomer generation retires with inadequate retirement savings. The homeless population in this segment is expected to climb, if not soar.

The New York Times did a good job reporting on the economic issue (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/05/business/bankruptcy-older-americans.html?nl=top-stories&nlid=67835882ries&ref=cta). This will be a critical concern for population health in the coming years.

Dennis Archambault is vice president for Public Affairs at Authority Health