Congressional Column: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II
Fully addressing positive health outcomes requires concerted focus on access to and affordability of care, social factors contributing to well-being, prevention and intervention education, and quality research. Our nation has complex challenges that must be addressed by looking across disciplines and to public, private, and non-profit partnerships.
My focus over these seven terms has necessarily involved a wide aperture on systemic issues that include:
- health care access and literacy;
- preventive and palliative care;
- equity and transparency; and
- ensuring safety and accountability through standards and evidence-based evaluation.
Body, mind, justice, community and the environment all intersect. Health disparities cross rural and urban geographies, income, gender, race, ethnicity and disability. Physical and mental illness, substance abuse diseases, suicides, violence, and pollution do not respect these categories. A diverse constituency informs my health priorities, which include co-sponsorship of such bills as rural access to hospice, mental health and addiction treatment; suicide prevention; climate change health protection; transparency in drug pricing; test screening access; and doctor-patient weighted determinacy in step protocols. My resolve to make civility more contagious has intensified, so we in Congress strive as statesmen to work across differences.
The previous Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, spoke about the importance of social connection noting that isolation contributes to addiction, heart disease, diabetes, depression and other chronic illnesses, as this audience knows too well. Social isolation also impacts isolated viewpoints and the inability to work across differences, regions and belief systems. Health and social well-being require us to lead across specialties, across urban and rural hospitals, across politics and self-interest to see the whole and act together for the greater good.
I applaud MHA’s service to Missouri communities for nearly a century and look forward to continuing to work together to improve health care for Missourians.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II