Policy and Advocacy for Improving Population Health
Rather than focus on the treatment of chronic disease, policies that influence population health tend to emphasize prevention and wellness; the reduction or elimination of waste and the eradication of health disparities based on race, ethnicity, language, income, gender, sexual orientation, disability and other factors. The reasoning is that good health belongs to the whole, not just an individual. (New York State Dept. of Health, n.d.)
Regardless of political affiliation, every citizen has a stake in healthcare policy decisions. Hence, it is little wonder why healthcare items become such high-profile components of presidential agendas. It is also little wonder why they become such hotly debated agenda items.
Consider a topic (mental health, HIV, opioid epidemic, pandemics, obesity, prescription drug prices, or many others) that rises to the presidential level. How did the current and previous presidents handle the problem? What would you do differently?
New York State Department of Health. (n.d.). Making New York the healthiest state: Achieving the triple aim. Retrieved June 21, 2021 from https://www.health.ny.gov/events/population_health_summit/docs/what_is_population_health.pdf
Review the Resources and reflect on the importance of agenda setting.
Consider how federal agendas promote healthcare issues and how these healthcare issues become agenda priorities
Mental Health: Policies and Advocacy
Mental health may not have always drawn much attention from American presidents, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the raging opioid crisis warranted better actions. Unfortunately, some presidential actions have been counterproductive. For instance, the former President’s open support to overturning the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would reduce coverage for mental health needs, especially for low-income earners (Neuman et al., 2020). The President also supported the extension of the duration of short-term health plans from three months to one year. Thus, these short-term policies do not need to comply with ACA guidelines, reducing the mandated cover for mental health needs. Conversely, the current President is providing additional funds to states and groups to enhance the treatment and prevention of mental health issues (SAMHSA, 2021). The funds should help stakeholders develop feasible solutions to the psychiatric challenges among the populations they serve.
However, long-term, institutionalized president-driven policies are necessary to address mental health effectively. First, declaring it a national crisis would draw more attention to the issue. The opioid epidemic is considered a national health crisis, but not all mental health issues are related to drug and substance abuse. Hence, declaring it a national crisis would broaden the political and social awareness of the problem. It would also facilitate policymakers and healthcare workers’ devoted and coordinated involvement in developing long-term solutions. The President should also push for a generally healthier social and physical environment. For instance, teenagers and young adults encounter stressors online from bullies, trolls, and other such vile users (Gangitano, 2022). However, there is little legal effort to dissuade this behavior. Therefore, the President should engage technological companies in creating a safe online environment, reducing avoidable mental health triggers.
Gangitano, A. (2022, Mar. 1). Biden to hold tech companies accountable on mental health. https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/596271-biden-to-call-for-holding-social-media-companies-accountable-for
Neuman, T., Freed, M., Kates, J., Pollitz, K., Rudowitz, R., Artiga, S. Long, M., Musumeci, M., Salganicoff, A., Cubanski, J., Dawson, L., Dolan, R., Panchal, N., & Kamal, R. (2020, Sep. 14). President Trump’s Record on Health Care. https://www.kff.org/report-section/president-trumps-record-on-health-care-issue-brief/#MentalHealth
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. (2021, Mar. 11). With Pandemic Worsening the Mental Illness and Addiction Crisis, Biden Administration to Provide Nearly $2.5 Billion to States, Territories for Treatment, Prevention Aid. https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/202103110230