Removing voting barriers improves healthcare

In Hawaii, marginalized communities, such as rural Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, suffer from chronic disease and mortality disproportionately higher than the general state population, as well as historically We are also working on low voter turnout.

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Health centers have an obligation to invest in voter education and access, especially as we enter a critical election year when Maui County is expected to have some close competition.

As leaders of three federally accredited health centers in Maui County, we have personally witnessed devastating health disparities over the past few years. FQHCs are community-based health organizations that provide care to underserved populations while adhering to a stringent set of federal and state requirements.

The community of Kaunakakai, Molokai we serve. Lanai City, Lanai; and Hana, Maui are seeing rising unemployment and cost of living. Community members see lack of broadband access for telemedicine, lack of nutritional sources for balanced diets, lack of social organization to encourage healthy lifestyles, and social determinants of health. We are often faced with many other conditions that can be.

The Centers for Disease Control defines SDOH as the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play that have a wide range of impacts on health and quality of life risks and outcomes. The American Medical Association, our country’s largest group of physicians, recently recognized access to voting as a social determinant of health problems. Voter engagement is also an initiative of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Healthy People 2030, a health promotion program that sets data-driven national goals to improve health and well-being over the next decade.

Ultimately, the vote, or who you vote for, and the work they do in legislation and policy-making will determine how affordable housing will be, how accessible early and higher education will be, and how affordable it will be. and what constitutes a livable wage, largely determines accessibility to For example, clean water, community safety, etc. In other words, votes directly impact our daily lives and have a direct correlation to impacting your overall health and the health of others in your community.

natural extension

Voter engagement is a natural extension of healthcare. Elected officials are unwilling to serve the needs of communities that do not vote. Removing barriers to voting can therefore help shape more equitable public policies, especially in marginalized communities, and also address health inequalities and improve overall health outcomes.

As a community health center, it is uniquely positioned and designed to provide health and wellness services to make an upstream impact with long-term and multi-generational benefits in underserved communities. increase. This approach to health includes many socioeconomic factors that influence patient health status. Therefore, we have both an obligation and an ethical obligation to enable patients to participate in the electoral process, so that elected leaders and policy makers can hear and reflect the needs of patients. is needed.

how do you plan to do that?

Moloka’i Community Health Center received Hawaii’s first Community Civic Engagement Program Award from Vot-ER for supporting its bipartisan voter education, engagement and mobilization efforts. Hana Health and Lanai Community Health Center have received the same Civic Engagement Award from Vot-ER for their joint efforts to encourage Native Hawaiian voters to go to the polls to overcome a historic downturn. As part of that, I will participate in MCHC with healthcare-based voter registration. Turnout in our state’s most important election year.

We have both an obligation and an ethical obligation to enable patients to participate in the electoral process.

Voter registration activities in healthcare settings do not raise legal or ethical issues if the efforts promote nonpartisan voting and legally guaranteed civil rights. In fact, the law allows nonpartisan voter registration anywhere publicly funded, such as Medicaid or Medicare. Her CHC, in particular, is informed by a clear mandate to address the social determinants of health, and our physicians see patients suffering the economic and social consequences of poor health. often

Given the links between health and political participation at both individual and population levels, primary health care providers and CHCs can provide the highest level of care when they support voter engagement.

Our CHC is committed to building a healthier future for all through whole person care. This now includes enabling many Native Hawaiians to have a say in policies that affect the health and well-being of their patients.

We will promote health equity and social justice by encouraging other health centers across the state to join us in our efforts to build more inclusive democracies that reflect the diverse needs of our communities. We want to advance the public narrative for

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