Spotlight Exclusives

San Francisco Forum Focuses on Social Disparities in Health

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An impressive gathering of political leaders, advocates and policy wonks were in attendance on Monday in San Francisco for a major forum examining the social and economic factors that influence health and the role those issues should play in the upcoming health care reform debate.  The event was jointly sponsored by the California Endowment, the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.

A series of speakers spoke eloquently about the vicious cycle of poverty and poor health, making clear that as Congress begins debate in the coming months on health care policy reform the discussion will need to be about far more than health insurance.

The ball is already rolling in that direction at the state level.  Speaking at the Monday forum, California State Assembly member Dave Jones, who is chair of the Assembly۪s Committee on Health, said that his committee will hold hearings in the next month on what can be done in California to address racial and ethnic disparities in health.

Several speakers also pointed to provisions in the Obama Administration۪s economic recovery package that directly or indirectly affect health, including increased funding for food stamps, education and even transportation.

Paula Braveman, director of the Center on Social Disparities in Health at the University of California, San Francisco, noted the direct link between poverty, low education attainment, low-paying jobs and poor health.  Poor education, she said, leads to low-income which leads to an inability to purchase healthy food and have access to regular exercise. All of this also leads to greater stress, which in itself results in poorer health compared with those who are better educated and have secure, well-paying jobs.

For a complete look at the days events and to view clips of forum speakers, please click here.

Posted by Amy


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