Tag Archive | social determinants of health

Driver’s licenses for all would make health, economic, and community impacts

Michigan-Drivers-License-for-All_840x480Lack of transportation is a social determinant that directly impacts health by limiting access to healthy food and medical care.  It also makes it hard to keep a job. According to a report released today from the Michigan League for Public Policy restoring driver’s licenses for undocumented Michiganders would also bring the State $100 million in new revenue over 10 years. Here’s what a 12/19.2019 MLPP media release shared:

State law allowed undocumented residents to receive driver’s licenses until 2008, and the new information from the League reinforces the far-reaching benefits of renewing that policy. The Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom and the Economy) legislation would allow state driver’s licenses for all residents, and the bills were introduced in November by Sens. Stephanie Chang and Winnie Brinks and Reps. Alex Garza and Rachel Hood.

“The economic impact is important, but what we’re really talking about here is belonging. We’re talking about parents being able to take their kids to the doctor, to visit grandma, to get to school events. We’re talking about the fact that everyone living in Michigan should have an identity,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

If the Drive SAFE bills pass, an estimated 55,000 Michigan residents would pass driver’s tests and become licensed, leading to 20,000 vehicle purchases. Fees, registration and taxes from those two factors alone would result in $12 million in annual recurring revenue for the state. This does not take into account the positive impacts on local economies.
“Access to a driver’s license affects the amount of money people earn and spend. It’s imperfect, but it’s a fact: Being a Michigander often means being dependent on cars. When people can get to and from their jobs, they’re able to work more hours and earn more money. They’re able to expand the number of places they can shop and increase the amount of money they spend,” Jacobs said.

With 20,000 more Michigan drivers becoming insured and passing driver’s tests, roads will be safer and accidents resolved more quickly. The Drive SAFE bills would also lead to reduced auto insurance premiums.

Dozens of statewide organizations including the Michigan Farm Bureau, the ACLU of Michigan, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Nurses Association support the Drive SAFE bills, and the Washtenaw, Oakland and Kalamazoo county commissions have passed resolutions in support of driver’s licenses for all. If the bills pass, Michigan will join 14 other states that provide access to a driver’s license or ID, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A 15th state, New Jersey, passed legislation yesterday that will allow immigrants without legal status to get a driver’s license, which is expected to be signed into law.

Social Justice was the focus of Health Equity Forum in Kent County

This article is reposted from GRIID.org. OKT also had opportunity to attend this forum.

“The presenters … defined health inequity as: Differences in population health status and mortality rates that are systemic, patterned, unfair, unjust, and actionable, as opposed to random or caused by those who become ill.”

On Thursday, the Kent County Health Department, Healthy Kent 2020 and the Strong Beginnings Program hosted a forum to explore the root causes of health inequality in Kent County.

Quite often the focus of health care forums is about access or looking at just individual behavior as determinants of people’s poor health. At this forum, the focus was an investigation into the structural or systemic causes of poor health.

To facilitate this conversation, the Kent County Health Department invited two staff members of the Ingham County Health Department, Dr. Renee Canady and Doak Bloss. Canady and Bloss have been doing social justice focused health analysis at their health department and facilitating workshops across the state in recent years.

The presenters expressed the importance of finding new language when talking about health inequality in America. They defined health inequity as:

Differences in population health status and mortality rates that are systemic, patterned, unfair, unjust, and actionable, as opposed to random or caused by those who become ill.

The co-facilitators then looked at the various determinants of health inequality in the US and said that things like housing, transportation, education, job security, access to health foods and a living wage were some of the determinants.

The presenters said that this was a radical departure from the traditional view of public health, which is often limited to individual behavior. However, they emphasized that class, gender and racial privilege often prevent people from seeing the systemic causes of health inequity.

It was quite refreshing to hear presenters talk about class oppression and globalization as major factors in determining people’s health. The presenters even used the language of the Occupy movement and referred to the 1% versus the 99%.

After the main presenters discussed social justice and health inequity, a staff member of the Kent County Health Department then presented data on health disparities in Kent County.

The data presented information on how many adults and children were living in poverty in Kent County, with a breakdown along racial lines. There was also data on infant mortality rates, morbidity and geographical significance.

It was clear from the data presented that there were large pockets of poor neighborhoods that were disproportionately Black and Hispanic that had greater health inequality. Blacks and Hispanics children have a higher rate of living in poverty and infant mortality rates are higher than for White children. The data also showed that poor & minority communities are 6 times more likely to report 14 or more days a year of poor health, 3 times more likely to have diabetes and 8 times more likely to have heart disease.

The social justice and health inequity forum concluded with individual tables having discussion about the information presented and how those in the health care community need to respond to the systemic injustice that exists in Kent County. However, it was recognized that the organizations in the room needed to begin with the recognition of systemic and root causes of health disparities and then develop strategies to confront the systems that maintain these disparities.