The Latest Update from Jo Ivey Boufford, MD
This year, Governor Cuomo’s State of the State gave the Academy a great reason to celebrate, as he announced a truly groundbreaking Health Across All Policies approach to be used by state agencies to assess how their work can positively impact the health of all New Yorkers. This step reflects increased evidence and understanding of the critical determinants of health that lie outside the health care system and a commitment to promote policies and programs in sectors like transportation, housing, agriculture, environment, education, and the economy, among others, that can improve the health and wellbeing of every state resident.
The Academy has been working for several years with a broad range of partners from across these sectors to advocate for this comprehensive approach to both individual and community health for all New Yorkers. Furthermore, the Governor’s decision that the starting point for this important initiative should focus on the needs of older persons by making New York an Age-friendly state, is a strong reinforcement of the Academy’s long-standing commitment to creating an Age-friendly New York City. We look forward to continuing partnership on both of the Governor’s new initiatives, which add great momentum to New York’s focus on prevention in order to become the nation’s healthiest state.
One of the components of the state’s overall health reform that can serve as the platform for action to take this new initiative to communities across New York State is the Prevention Agenda, which is a blueprint for state and local action to improve the health of New Yorkers. The Academy has worked with the New York State Department of Health since 2008 to help develop this initiative along with hundreds of organizations, including local public health departments, hospitals and health care systems, universities, businesses, faith and other community-based organizations across the state. The most recent phase of the Prevention Agenda (2013-2018) increasingly aligns the actions of local coalitions, led by hospitals and health systems and local health departments, with other key stakeholders to address priority health problems. We are extremely proud of the successes we have seen thus far:
• A 6 percent drop in preventable hospitalizations.
• A 14 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate.
• A 30 percent drop in tobacco use among high school students.
The Academy has also worked on several strategies to increase the portion of the approximately $160 billion spent annually on health care in New York that is invested in the broader determinants of health. This includes trying to align spending on programs such as DSRIP and hospital community benefit with evidence-based interventions that advance the Prevention Agenda.
Through our extensive alliances with partners, our research, education and advocacy work, we have also helped to:
• Change food procurement policies in New York State to increase the purchase of local, healthy foods in hospitals, schools and other public institutions.
• Extend the implementation of the Complete Streets Act, to create safer more convenient roadways and increase opportunities for outdoor physical activity.
• Increase regional economic development funding for projects that promote health threefold—from 2.2 percent to 7.4 percent—as of 2013.
The Academy is tremendously proud of these important milestones, but we realize that now, more than ever, it is critical to recognize and support investments that promote health and prevent disease. The federal Prevention and Public Health Fund—funded through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—provides support for essential services in New York State, including $42 million for vaccines for low-income children and adults, infectious disease prevention and core, state-identified public health needs. Over the next five years, the state could lose $207,587,230 in crucial investments in public health if this part of the ACA is repealed, according to a new report by the Trust for America’s Health.
Together, we must make every effort to secure the important strides we have made toward making New York the healthiest state and continue to move forward to promote health and health equity for all.