From The Chair
The call for a healthy America is as American as our nation itself. When Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and Philadelphia surgeon Thomas Bond conspired to create the nation’s first public hospital in 1751, they envisioned a system that would provide free healthcare to the city’s “sick-poor” and “diseased foreigners,” with the colony’s taxpayers footing the cost of healthcare in exchange for the lasting benefits of healthier city-dwellers, minimal health related poverty, and averted epidemics.
Nearly150 years later, University of Pennsylvania sociologist W.E.B. DuBois noted in the Philadelphia Negro that not only did the health of Philadelphia blacks vary by neighborhood condition; but that black men had poorer overall health than black women, and gender differences in health were larger for blacks than for whites.
Generations after Dr. Franklin and Dr. DuBois, America has made significant gains on the healthcare front. We’ve developed pioneering research and rehabilitation hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. We have successfully vaccinated millions to prevent diseases like polio, improved the science of organ transplantation, and produced more than half of the world’s new medicines in the last decade. Today pharmaceutical drugs in our cabinets help regulate our blood pressure, filters help us breathe better and everyday technologies like Smartwatches and Fitbits help monitor our daily exercise, food, weight and sleep.
Still, there is work to be done in pursuit of a healthier America. Your zip code, ethnicity, and bank balance shouldn’t determine your health. I am honored to have been chosen to lead the CBC Health Braintrust at such a critical time, as we work toward the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act and increasing access to healthcare and improving health outcomes across the country. . I look forward to Chairing the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust in the 114th Congress.I welcome the opportunity to bring together health policy experts, community advocates, and elected officials to meet the challenge of developing strategies that improve health outcomes for vulnerable Americans across the socio-economic spectrum.
Robin Kelly, Chair
Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust