Brief # 99 Health and Gender Policy
Biden Infrastructure Plan’s Secret Winner: Public Health
By Justin Lee
The American Jobs Plan, introduced by President Biden last week, proposes a whopping $2.25 trillion to revamp and modernize multiple industries. As the plan allocates and focuses most on American infrastructure upgrades, significant parts of the plan also directly and indirectly revamps American public health. As capitol hill will likely continue to debate the size and funding of the legislative package, it is important to outline how this package can move American public health into the modern era.
Public health is a secret, underlying winner of the American Jobs Plan, as outlined below:
Safeguarding “critical” infrastructure and services
Part of the $650 billion proposed for infrastructure upgrades will include revamping community health clinics, hospitals, and food systems. In particular focus will be low income and people of color communities. The pandemic in the US has shown how a health crisis can, and continues, to affect lower income communities disproportionately. To further increase the “critical services” part, the Biden Administration should also focus on funding for community food banks, health education/awareness programs, and mental health programs.
Additionally, the plan allocates $10 billion specifically to modernize and revamp federal buildings, including VA hospitals.
Investment for essential care workers and facilities
The pandemic has and continues to put a strain on caregivers and care facilities. Biden’s plan invests more than $400 billion in increasing wages and benefits for caregivers in both home and community-based facilities for aging populations and people with disabilities. This proposal certainly has a positive effect on public health, as more people in critical need can get the proper, quality mental and medical care necessary with a qualified and trained workforce less strained.
Access to safe, clean drinking water
As seen in the 2014 Flint Water Crisis, many lower income communities and communities of color have water systems using lead pipes. The plan allocates over $100 billion to remove and replace lead pipes and upgrade water and wastewater systems. Lead poisoning can lead to severe brain impairments in infants and adolescents, and permanent kidney damage. Eroding lead pipes can also lead to a breeding ground of harmful bacteria. Clean water infrastructure is a foundational base for proper public health, and it is encouraging that the plan specifically addresses this issue.
Invest in digital infrastructure
Another $100 billion will go towards investing in American digital infrastructure, including broadband coverage and accessibility. These investments help public health as America utilized telemedicine services more widely as a result of the pandemic. These investments can give rural, lower income communities more access to health services and strengthen American cybersecurity as more personal health information gets processed as digital data.
Access and availability of affordable housing
Another foundation of proper public health is adequate housing, which promotes proper sanitation and hygiene. President Biden’s plan proposes over $200 billion to construct and/or convert existing apartment units into affordable housing projects.
President Biden is planning to unveil a 2nd part of his infrastructure plan that also will address public health needs. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated last week a second, more “family focused” legislative package could be introduced in the coming weeks by the Biden Administration. This package, also estimated to be around $2 trillion, will include expansions in health insurance coverage, child tax benefits, and paid family and medical leave. This is encouraging as the US emerges out of the pandemic and into post-pandemic recovery. We will learn how the administration will address the millions of people who are still unemployed, uninsured, and without access to medical facilities.
Trust for America’s Health is a public health policy and research organization that advocates for a nation that values the health and well-being of Americans. Their organization has valuable information regarding health policies and issues on a federal and state level, and also actively publishes reports regarding public health on their website. To find more information or to get involved, use the link below:
The American Public Health Association is an organization aimed to Improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status. As the main publishers for the American Journal of Public Health and The Nation’s Health newspapers, APHA educates the public on public health, policy statements, and advocacy for public health. To volunteer or become a member, use the link below: