For Public Health Workers, Voting Is a Professional Responsibility
by Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS
On November 6th the United States will hold the 2018 midterm elections. Midterm elections are notoriously low-turnout elections, with disenchantment and apathy usually carrying the day for many if not most eligible voters. However, these are not typical times that we’re living in. As public health is inherently political, this is a time when the public health workforce (broadly defined), needs to go to the polls and cast an informed vote for those candidates who will protect and strengthen the public health workforce, fund scientific research, and address social determinants of health. Specifically, there are several issues that are directly tied to political action at the federal level that should be considered by all voters:
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA is still very much in jeopardy, and the makeup of congress in the upcoming session will go a long way to determining if there will be sustained access to health insurance, especially for those with preexisting conditions. As mortality rates are higher among the uninsured, any move that will increase uninsured rates is counter to protecting the health of the nation.
- Family focused policies. There are several policy issues that affect families, from funding reproductive services (eg, comprehensive sexual education) to paid family and medical leave. Also affecting families are policies such as those supportive of a living wage and access to affordable housing. The link between affordable housing policies and health and the impact of policies (or lack of policies) on health equity is well established.
- Research funding. While funding for the National Institutes of Health is obviously a concern, we still live in a time where funding for research into climate change and its effects on health is underfunded, and research into the causes and prevention of gun violence is unfunded. It’s reasonable to assume that we will make no progress on either of these pressing issues if we don’t invest the funds to explore the causes and potential solutions.
- It’s difficult to over-emphasize the importance of addressing the opioid epidemic, and there are good models out there to inform our national response. However, a coordinated response will take funding, training, and action.
Regardless of your public health priorities, or the order in which they guide your actions, I encourage all Americans to inform themselves and head to the polls next week. It will be important to look through rhetoric and bluster to focus on tangible proposals and/or voting history when deciding on a candidate to support for office. Ultimately, public health shouldn’t be political. In a perfect world, we would use surveillance data and scientific discovery to inform policy decisions based upon a shared system of values that prioritize the lives of all Americans (health equity) balanced against liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, short of that ideal, I encourage everyone to cast an informed vote on November 6th. In the end, it’s not only a privilege to vote, but a professional and personal responsibility.
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@justinbmoorephd outlines several issues that are directly tied to political action at the federal level that should be considered by all #voters, particularly those who work in #publichealth. #vote #MidtermElections #Midterms2018 #midterms https://wp.me/p7l72S-3oU
Voters need to go to the polls and cast an informed vote for those candidates who will protect and strengthen the public health workforce, fund scientific research, and address social determinants of health. From the editor outlines several issues directly tied to political action at the federal level that should be considered. https://wp.me/p7l72S-3oU
Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine of the Wake Forest School of Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Follow him at Twitter and Instagram. [Full Bio]