Our 14 public health all-stars offer their top ideas for reshaping America's long-term health
It’s hard enough for most of us to make smart long-term plans. It’s really hard for politicians to do it. So a year ago, at the beginning of our Agenda2020 series on the deep future of American health, we pulled a group of experts into a room in Washington and asked them: If we want to improve the health of a changing nation, what would you do?
Overwhelmingly, they converged on one big message: Health isn’t just about health. Real improvements in the national health – the kind that increase our average lifespan, boost our prosperity, and maybe even bend the curve of escalating costs – depend on connecting a whole network of services and life influences. They also take decades, meaning that if we want a healthier America not just in 2020, but in 2040 or 2050, we need to make some big decisions now.
So what should we be focusing on? To wrap up our yearlong series, we returned to our panel of experts, as well as a number of others who have contributed to our series over the past 12 issues, for one big idea. If Washington could invest in one “upstream” factor – one big commitment to shape the future of national health – what should it be? Their answers ran the gamut, from a bold new attack on child poverty to a better vision for elder care to a “foresight fund” that would prioritize the kind of investments politicians have trouble making.