The Future of Health Equity in America: Addressing the Legal and Political Determinants of Health

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 46 (4):838-840 (2018)
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Abstract

There is much discourse and focus on the social determinants of health, but undergirding these multiple intersecting and interacting determinants are legal and political determinants that have operated at every level and impact the entire life continuum. The United States has long grappled with advancing health equity via public law and policy. Seventy years after the country was founded, lawmakers finally succeeded in passing the first comprehensive and inclusive law aimed at tackling the social determinants of health, but that effort was short-lived. Today the United States is faced with another fork in the road relative to the advancement of health equity. This article draws on lessons from history and law to argue that researchers, providers, payers, lawmakers and the legal community have a moral, economic and national security imperative to address not only the negative outcomes of health disparities, but also the imbalance of inputs resulting from laws and policies which fail to employ an equity lens.

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