Now That Tax Day Has Passed, Let’s Plan How to Best Use Public Dollars to Invest in Health
April 20, 2022
Gina S. Lovasi, MPH, PhD, is associate dean for Education and Dornsife associate professor of Urban Health at the Dornsife School of Public Health. Dr. Lovasi authored this guest post for the Drexel News Blog on how to view tax season through a health equity lens this year:
We’ve passed the annual tax-filing deadline, and households across the country have gathered financial papers documenting tax payments — with the ostensible goal of paying our share so the government can provide for the public good. But as the pandemic continues into its third year, it’s reasonable to wonder how those tax dollars are being used to build healthier, more equitable communities — and how we are to know if those programs are working.
The implications of poverty for health have been underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wealth can be used to protect health, and poor health and past health expenses can also undermine earning ability.
"[A]s the pandemic continues into its third year, it’s reasonable to wonder how our tax dollars are being used to build healthier, more equitable communities — and how we are to know if those programs are working." - Gina S. Lovasi, MPH, PhD
Hospitals and government agencies launch well-intentioned programs aimed at closing the gap and improving health in economically marginalized settings. Too often, these efforts are not sustained, and are little more than a distraction from glaring, persistent structural inequities in our society. The problem with these efforts is that they rarely include funding for evaluation. And when they are evaluated, at times they are compared to doing nothing — rather than doing something else that might also help.
By contrast, when testing new medical treatments, there is a standard of evidence that requires comparison. When a new medical treatment is proposed, it undergoes rigorous scrutiny before it is approved for the public. While comparisons may also be made to a placebo — the equivalent of “doing nothing” — during this process, once a usual approach to care has emerge — even if imperfect — new options must be tested to show that they improve on the status quo.
We need to infuse this high standard into our place-based work to benefit health.
What should we start with as a standard care option for supporting health and health equity in communities, and what are the challenges that lie ahead?
Read the full article on the Drexel News Blog: Now That Tax Day Has Passed, Let’s Plan How to Best Use Public Dollars to Invest in Health