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UW-Madison Professor Tells U.S. Senate Health Isn't All About Health Care

Washington, D.C. - Americans are less healthy than they could be and dying earlier than they should, a UW School of Medicine and Public Health professor emeritus told a committee of the U.S. Senate Wednesday.

 

Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Dr. David Kindig addressed the topic "Dying Young: Why Social and Economic Status May Be a Death Sentence in America."

 

"This hearing shines needed light on something that many citizens and policy makers don't yet understand," Kindig told the subcommittee, which is chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). "While health care is necessary for health, it is not the only or even the most important factor in producing longer life and lives of high quality and productivity."

 

Dr. Kindig testifying before the Senate.

 

Dr. David Kindig, professor emeritus of population health sciences, testifies Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging Chairman chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Kindig, professor emeritus of population health sciences, has dedicated his career to improving population health, beginning as a pediatric resident in the South Bronx and serving as the first medical director of the National Health Service Corps in 1971. He currently co-chairs an Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Population Health Improvement.

 

Kindig has long studied the relationship between health and a person's social and economic class. He was co-author of a widely reported study earlier this year that showed that women's mortality rates were actually increasing in almost 43 percent of American counties, primarily in the rural South and West.

 

The study showed that cigarette smoking, lower education levels and lower incomes were most associated with earlier death.

 

Another Kindig study showed that early death rates closely track family income: An $8,900 increase in median family income was associated with an 18 percent reduction in death rates in low-income counties and 12 percent reduction in high-income counties.

 

"We know enough to act now. Many children born in poverty will have shorter and unhealthier lives determined by the time they get to middle school,’’ he told the senators. "I have been looking at these maps for my entire career and am frankly very tired of it. At a time when the important issue of medical care access and cost is front-page news every day, I commend this committee for bringing attention to the other determinants of health which are at least as important in changing the color of these maps."

 



Date Published: 11/21/2013

News tag(s):  researchpublic health

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Last updated: 12/05/2013
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