diabetes

Carol Smith's picture

Learning from the Duwamish River Communities

Seattle is a city built on water – its identity, its celebrated beauty, and much of its economic lifeblood comes from its relationship to Puget Sound and the rivers that flow into it.

But the Duwamish River, which runs through the center of Seattle’s urban industrial core, is not the one you see on post cards. Now named one of the largest Superfund sites in the country, it is also the river in the backyard of more than 38,000 of Seattle’s poorest and most diverse residents.

The goal of my 2010 National Health Fellowship project was to identify the community health issues that face the people living in two neighborhoods – Georgetown and South Park -- which face each other across the toxic river in the middle of the Superfund site. 

The thinking was that by identifying these problems, we could call out the issue of accountability, and more importantly point the way toward creative solutions for a portion of the population the greater Seattle community has historically ignored. The backdrop for the story was a looming multi-million dollar Superfund decision about how best to clean up the river, and to what extent.

The precipitating event for the story, though, was the closure of the bridge that links the two communities, effectively cutting off easy access to downtown Seattle a few miles away. To me it seemed the perfect metaphor for the attitude of the larger population toward those struggling to carve a life on the banks of the river that built the prosperous city down the road.

Byline: 
Rita Hibbard's picture

Health care reform means a significant boost in resources for Indian Country

Op-ed by Mark Trahant

A generation ago Indian Country wasn’t included in the conversation about health care reform. When Congress enacted Medicaid and Medicare it pretended that the Indian Health Service didn’t exist. It was as if it had never occurred to the government, that it, too, ran a major health care delivery system.

TrahantSay what you like about health care reform, the fact is that Indian Country is included in a big way this time around. If either the House or the Senate bill becomes law, there will be a significant boost in resources for the Indian Health system.

The largest single line item is the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, included in H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The Congressional Budget Office “scores” the cost at $100 million through 2014 and $200 million over a decade. Most of that cost is attributed to the “expansion of payments under Medicare.” This is important because American Indians and Alaskan Natives have the highest percentage of any population over 65 not currently enrolled in Medicare programs.

But the bigger ticket is the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Being fat is no joke

The Los Angeles Times' beautiful story about the imprisonment of comic Billi Gordon by his own 700-lb body illustrates how obesity, a U.S. health epidemic, can take over someone's life.

The American Medical Association has found that obesity is the top preventable cause of death in this country.  They write:

U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD called it the greatest threat to public health today. It kills more Americans every year than AIDS, all cancers and all accidents combined. And it's causing problems in children that were unthinkable 20 years ago.

-- Kristen Millares Young