Opinion: Health reform can lead to more resilient communities

Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently wrote an op-ed featured in the Huffington Post, “Health Reform in Your Emergency Kit.” While the full implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have yet to be explored for public health preparedness, Dr. Lurie argues that provisions in the ACA allow for healthier individuals, which in turn translates into more resilient and prepared communities. Health insurance cannot guarantee healthier individuals, but it moves the dial and makes that outcome more likely. Dr. Lurie states that those who are healthier day-to-day can be more self-reliant in disasters, which allows public health officials to focus on the most vulnerable populations. Even beyond the ACA, other reforms like the Recovery Act in 2009 have led to a shift from paper records toward electronic health records, which can improve care in disasters. While more still must be done to build resilient communities that can respond to and recover from disasters, health reform has led us one step closer in the right direction.

About Sara Rubin

Sara Rubin serves as a Senior Program Analyst for Pandemic and Catastrophic Preparedness at NACCHO. Her work includes broadening access to medical care during influenza pandemics, exploring the role of pharmacists in public health emergencies, and exploring mhealth applications for public health. Twitter: @SaraRubin

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