Surgeon General's Take On Healthier Communities
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Friday, December 08, 2017 07:38 AM

“Healthier communities tend to be more economically prosperous and more prosperous communities tend to be healthier,” said Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH.  Adams argued, “Health insurance coverage is one part of the equation, but it’s not going to solve the problem if we don't focus upstream." 

Adams focused on the interplay between the economy and wellness. He noted, for example, that in some areas of the country, jobs remain open because employers can’t find individuals who can pass a drug test to fill the posts. "We've got to make sure that communities are more prosperous. So that people don't lose hope. If they can see that there’s an opportunity to go to something else besides self-medicating … ultimately that's the most upstream that we can go." The impact of the opioid crisis on the economy is an example, noting that many of the overdoses are “deaths of despair."

He also expressed support for once-controversial policies such as needle exchanges during a recent hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The purpose of the hearing was to focus on healthy communities, with an emphasis on things businesses and local communities can do to help residents and employees. That discussion was at times derailed by Democrats blasting a Republican decision to include a repeal of the individual mandate in their tax reform bill.  Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked the new surgeon general whether a lower percentage of uninsured individuals was a sign of a healthier community.