Ambitious Health Goals for the Next Decade

Uncle Sam wants you to be healthier. And there’s a plan to do it.

Every 10 years, the US Department of Health and Human Services introduces its Healthy People agenda for the coming decade. Last month, Healthy People 2020 was launched – a national framework to make Americans healthier, improve prevention efforts, and address serious medical issues. This multi-year program builds on previous blueprints, dating back to the Surgeon General’s 1979 report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Our national health goals have become increasingly ambitious, and Health People 2020 has expanded to include many more specific health objectives. There is renewed attention to addressing health disparities – with recognition that  social determinants of health such as income, education, access to services, and culture are major contributory factors. Healthy People 2020 adds 13 new areas, ranging from Adolescent Health to Sleep Health. This is in addition to the long-term health goals from previous agendas like reducing incidence of diabetes, asthma, and obesity.

Health communication and Health IT take on a more prominent role:

“Ideas about health and behaviors are shaped by the communication, information, and technology that people interact with every day. Health communication and health information technology (IT) are central to health care, public health, and the way our society views health.”

Health literacy, shared decision-making, cultural considerations, and meaningful use of Health IT are just some of the many objectives under this umbrella.

Schools, state and local government agencies, hospitals, public health officials, and other providers will take part in program execution nationwide. It takes more than a village to get and keep Americans healthy. It takes a nation of villages, and a national effort. Health reform will help to ensure that more people can get preventive care, obtain better access to providers, and not lose insurance if they get sick.

Republicans have vowed to overturn many components of reform. Their position is in direct contrast with Healthy People 2020 goals. Both public and private sector health programs need more funding – especially in this coming decade as baby boomers continue to age into the Medicare generation. With the economy in the tank for now, and Republicans controlling the House, it’s will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

I will be following events and the progress towards these goals; stay tuned for updates as warranted. In the meantime, don’t just make a New Year’s promise to get healthier. Get up and DO it!

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