Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another open door crashed through

But still, worth noting. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has issued a report with the astonishing conclusion that medical care isn't the most important determinant of people's health.

We have always known this but it just has to be repeated and repeated and repeated until it finally penetrates the concrete skulls of the voters and policy makers.

Most people think about health and health care together, said Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institution, who co-chaired the Commission with Brookings colleague Alice Rivlin, in a webcast marking the report’s release.  But “when you start looking at the evidence, looking at what’s working on the ground to actually have a meaningful impact on the health of people,” you realize that “you can’t get there just by putting more resources into health care.”

Well duhhh. They recommend investment in early childhood education, community development and integration of social services ("for example, investments in housing or transportation could reduce health care costs, and a portion of those savings could then be invested back into health-promoting neighborhood development."), along with finding ways of integrating social and medical services.

Sounds great, but of course we're going in the opposite direction. I'd like to pick out transportation, just for the heck of it. Excellent mass transit gives people in poor communities access to jobs, educational opportunities, better and cheaper groceries and other goods, and cultural resources. It also reduces air pollution that causes ill health (as I have discussed here earlier), and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It encourages mixed use development around transit stops and builds stronger community ties. And building mass transit will give people jobs.

Oh wait. Rich people would have to pay taxes to pay for it. Okay, forget about it.

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