American Jobs Plan Includes Many Provisions for Improving Public Health

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ACP has long advocated for more investment in the public health infrastructure

April 16, 2021 (ACP) – President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan represents a major investment in public health, and the American College of Physicians is an enthusiastic supporter of the plan's elements.

“We've been arguing for years that the nation needs to increase investment in public health infrastructure. It's encouraging to see a plan finally come to fruition,” said Bob Doherty, ACP senior vice president for governmental affairs and public policy. “We're proud to stand with the president in pushing for beneficial spending that will pay dividends and make a difference for decades to come.”

The infrastructure proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan, includes several provisions that will improve access to health care. Here's a closer look at what they will accomplish:

  • Improved access to long-term care
    President Biden wants Congress to approve spending $400 billion to expand access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities. The Biden plan includes a focus on improving long-term care for people on Medicaid.
    According to Doherty, the United States has not allocated enough funds to make sure long-term care facilities have the resources and staffing they need, and there's a special need for Medicaid beneficiaries to get appropriate services.
    “Medicaid is a critical piece in how many older patients, and other vulnerable persons, can afford necessary long-term care,” said Dr. Jacqueline W. Fincher, president of ACP. “ACP believes that offering more flexibility, including alternatives to nursing homes, as the Biden administration plan does, will better serve individuals' needs.”
  • Expanded access to high-speed broadband
    The Biden plan includes a $100 billion investment in affordable high-speed broadband. A gap has developed between those who have high-speed internet and those who do not, Doherty said. “If you have access and the skills to use it, you're more likely to get a vaccine appointment than if you don't,” he said. “Access to the internet is crucial for other aspects of health care such as telehealth, enrolling for coverage through the Affordable Care Act and even shopping for nutritious foods.”
  • Modernization of schools and childcare facilities and upgrades of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and federal buildings
    “The VA system is an important part of our public health infrastructure,” Doherty said, “and the facilities and hospitals are crucial to our nation's well-being.”
  • Expansion of efforts to combat climate change
    “ACP has been on record for many years now about the impact that global warming and climate change are having on the health of people in America and globally,” Doherty said. “They're associated with more heat-related, insect-borne and respiratory diseases, and there's increasing evidence that the kinds of severe weather events we've been seeing in the United States are related to climate change.”
    ACP is especially pleased that the Biden plan calls for the use of low-carbon materials and clean power for new VA hospitals and other federal buildings. ACP has advocated for environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient practices as part of its policy on Climate Change and Health.
  • Funding to defend the United States against future pandemics
    “While we are all still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fincher said, “it's important to use the lessons learned over the past year to make sure that we are better prepared to weather the next pandemic and mitigate the dire health and financial consequences we are seeing now.”
  • Funding to upgrade the nation's water system and remove lead pipes
    “This funding would make improvements to the existing infrastructure to remove lead pipes and make other needed upgrades,” Fincher said. “It would also fund water monitoring so that we would better know when a community's health is in danger. Inadequate funding for these types of public health functions poses a grave threat to our nation's public health. In our policy on Strengthening the Public Health Infrastructure, ACP calls for more investment to protect the public from the environmental health and infection risks that things like issues with our water infrastructure present.”

The Biden plan is likely to be adjusted during congressional negotiations, Doherty said, and provisions may be added or removed. Whatever the case, he said, “ACP is going to argue that any legislation must provide the policy, structure and funding needed for health care infrastructure. This needs to be done, and we'll make that loud and clear.”

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Back to the April 16, 2021 issue of ACP Advocate