Gibson Lecture Series 2019
April 2, Daniel Dawes, an attorney who worked on the creation of the Affordable Care Act, spoke to the Lincoln community about healthcare in America. Where has it come from? What is it now? And what does it need to be?
Dawes first had his audience take a look at health in America and how to change it. He stated that America spends more on health care than any other country, yet it’s disproportionately low on the list of healthiest countries. Why? America’s social discrepancies keep the low low and the high high.
Dawes broke the problem down into three major issues affecting healthcare: social, environmental and behavioral determinants can change health outcomes. For example, Dawes cited research compiled on black women who lived through the Jim Crow era.
The findings presented how these women had a higher prevalence of an aggressive form of breast cancer, one that was rarely detected on cancer screening machines. These women endured segregation and suffered the byproduct of aggressive, undetectable breast cancer.
Another major issue with health in America stems from the effects of poverty tax. President Franklin D. Roosevelt came up with a law that allowed a corporation to give a grade to each zip code ranging from A-D with A being the best and D being the worst.
The zipcodes with C’s and D’s could be denied loans by the government. To add salt to the wound, those zip codes had higher tax rates on mortgage, gas and auto insurance. It was (and is) a never-ending cycle of poverty that’s difficult to escape.
Dawes spent most of his talk addressing social aspects, including poverty tax and the effects of the Jim Crow era on black women. He spent some time on behavior, focusing on epigenetics and the rest on environmental factors such as relying on faulty public transportation or a lack of good employment opportunities. Dawes was able to drive his point home by addressing the security issue healthcare presents to the nation. He stated that in 2009, 75 percent of adults aging 17-24 were unfit for military service.
That’s over half the eligible population. If three-fourths of America’s young adults aren’t fit for military service because they have to treat their illnesses, how is America going to defend itself?
That was the key to passing the Affordable Care Act in Congress, and Dawes noted this act was the most comprehensive healthcare act ever passed, and arguably the most inclusive advocacy law.
He stressed the importance of keeping people healthy and summed the issue up by saying both parties are striving to improve the quality of care available to all Americans and reform mental health programs. Once the parties realize they’re all on the same page, they can strive together to achieve that goal.
Ashley Bower is a junior studying english language arts education.