The National Hispanic Medical Association and the New York Academy of Medicine held a policy briefing on Tuesday, July 15th to discuss health disparities and ways to reduce them. The briefing highlighted the presidential candidates’ health care reform platforms as well as ways to improve health within the Latino community.
This event was unique in that the social determinants of health were discussed as major causes of poor health among Latinas/os. Traditionally, lack of insurance or lack of access to care have been cited as primary causes. Although addressing these are certainly important considerations in health reform, it is equally important to note that social determinants also negatively impact Latinos’ health.
These determinants, such as poor housing, environmental and working conditions and low wages, certainly contribute to negative health outcomes but are often overlooked in today’s health care debate. Dr. Joseph Betancourt, representing Senator Obama, stated, “It is not just health policy that will cure our ills and address the nation’s health but it is social policy, policy that addresses housing, the environment, and living wage.”