The Importance of Policy
By The PHCD Team | April 21, 2016
Policy and legislation play a critical role in our health.
Laws can impact our access to medical services or requirements for insurance coverage, like the Affordable Care Act. However, laws that aren't connected to care or coverage can also effect our health; in fact, they can have an even larger impact on our bodies and brains then we imagine.
Think about the street you live on. Is it safe? Well-lighted? Do speed-bumps slow down drivers so neighborhood children have a place to run and play? Does tree shade make it an appealing place to go for a jog? Do the gutters clog up during the winter rains or are they well-maintained? Are the cross walks clearly visible and the side-walks accessible to all? Do neighbors socialize and support each other? Are families of all ethnicity and income levels able to live there?
Neighborhoods that are safe and provide access to physical activity and social connection for its residents have a profound impact on our health, and are just one example of a social determinant of health. And like our streets, many of these determinants are governed by an array of institutional, city, county, state, or federal laws or policies.
We here at the Petaluma Health Care District know our mission to improve the health and well-being of our residents cannot be fulfilled without laws and policies that support good health too. For the past three months, a group of passionate residents and organizational leaders have been working to develop a platform for PHCD's Community Health Initiative of the Petaluma Area. We've had great support from the Association of California Healthcare Districts and insight from the California Health in All Policies Task Force. While we still have some kinks to work out and some decisions to make, we're very excited to be dipping our toe into the policy pool, and we'll update you as soon as we take the plunge!