On September 19, 2022, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved joined the Healthy Democracy Healthy People coalition, along with leaders across the public health, healthcare, and civic engagement sectors, in sending the Biden Administration a set of recommendations to strengthen civic and voter participation through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Coalition is unified on the understanding that when more people are engaged in democracy people and communities are healthier. Civic and voter participation is strongly associated with health disparities: states and countries that have more accessible voting policies and higher levels of civic participation are healthier across multiple public health measures. Improving health disparities can only be achieved by fully addressing the social and political determinants of health, including civic and voter participation.
The letter expressed appreciation for the actions HHS has already taken such as, establishing voting metrics as a research objective in Healthy People 2030 and offering guidance for voter registration in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Additionally, we assert there is more that HHS can do to actively support civic engagement, especially as one of the largest federal agencies that directly touches Americans’ lives. The Coalition letter made three recommendations of actions HHS can take to strengthen civic and voter participation and advance health and racial equity. These recommendations include:
- Establish “Increase the proportion of the voting-age citizens who vote — SDOH-R02” as a core, or measurable, objective within Healthy People 2030 and support voting metric development, collection and analysis.
- Offer clear and specific guidance on what HHS agencies and organizations receiving federal HHS funding can do to promote civic and voter participation.
- Provide a public update and host a listening session on how HHS is responding to and working to align their programs with the President’s Executive Order from March 2021.