Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities

The places where we live, learn, work, and play all contribute to our ability to become and stay healthy. A Culture of Health means everyone has the basics to be as healthy as possible—like access to quality education, employment opportunities, and safe, clean neighborhoods across rural and urban settings. 

Commentary

In fall 2018, we launched a new Policies for Action Research Hub at Vanderbilt to examine barriers to the healthy development and success of low-income children in Tennessee. We knew that building a strong, policy-focused research agenda would require open communication and a cooperative spirit among our state agencies and community health and education organizations.

Finding the Bright Spots: What Policies Make Communities Healthy?

Many factors influence the health and well-being of communities, including who can afford to live in them; local, state, and private-sector policies; and the availability of opportunities to live a healthy, engaged, and productive life. This project will seek to explain why some communities seem to have more opportunity and be healthier than others.

Local Policy Responses to Housing Voucher Discrimination

People who receive vouchers or other forms of federal or local housing assistance are not protected from discrimination by federal fair housing or civil rights laws, and in most places, landlords can legally refuse to rent to voucher holders. Researchers will assess whether and under what conditions state and local protections reduce landlord discrimination and improve the rate at which voucher holders are successful at finding housing.

A Healthy Start to Life: How Medicaid Expansion Improves Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes

Birth outcomes, including infant mortality and low birth weight, are shockingly poor in the U.S. Researchers will assess whether the ACA increased intended pregnancies, reduced prepregnancy smoking, and affected contraception and birth outcomes among women covered by Medicaid--and whether these changes reduced disparities across racial and ethnic groups.

Medicaid Work Requirements: Results from the First Year in Arkansas

In June 2018, Arkansas became the first state to implement work requirements in Medicaid. Benjamin D. Sommers, Anna L. Goldman, Robert J. Blendon, E. John Orav, and Arnold M. Epstein of Harvard University provide the first independent assessment of early changes in beneficiary coverage and employment after the work requirements went into effect.

Commentary

How does the current housing affordability crisis widen health inequities across race and income? What are the wide-ranging effects of housing subsidies on children’s well-being or on positive aging for low-income seniors? Policies for Action is trying to answer some of these questions, and create actionable evidence for those shaping housing policies at the local, state, and federal levels.

Credit Where It's Due: Investigating Pathways from EITC Expansion to Maternal Mental Health

While Earned Income Tax Credit expansions are typically associated with improvements in maternal mental health, little is known about the mechanisms through which the program affects this outcome. Anuj Gangopadhyaya, Fredric Blavin, Jason Gates, and Breno Braga of the Urban Institute assess the impact of more than two decades of federal expansions in EITC credits and the implementation of state-specific EITC programs on maternal mental health in a new working paper.