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Meet HAPI: How a Policy Idea from the UK Could Inspire Health and Economic Improvements

时间:2024-02-28 15:14:43   作者:GBWindows   来源:行业网站   阅读:251  
内容摘要:RTICLE·Feb 7, 2024Meet HAPI: How a Policy Idea from the UK Could Inspire Health and Economic ImprovementsAgainst the backdrop of growing hea......

Meet HAPI: How a Policy Idea from the UK Could Inspire Health and Economic Improvements

Against the backdrop of growing health and economic disparities in the United States, a new idea from the United Kingdom offers a possible policy blueprint for driving change for communities most in need

The Institute of Public Policy Research’s recent interim report, part of their “Healthy Places, Prosperous Lives” series, introduced a compelling new policy idea: Health and Prosperity Improvement Zones (HAPIs). IPPR, a UK-based non-profit, has focused considerable attention on how best to address declining health and economic opportunity in many underserved UK communities. They are trying to solve for a pernicious cycle they see unfolding in their country: “poorer and sicker areas are getting poorer and sicker the most quickly.”

In the U.S., policymakers have been grappling with similar gaps — not just income inequality and other economic disparities, but also stark health inequities, whether it’s chronic diseases, obesity or access to and quality of healthcare. The U.S. situation mirrors the challenge in the UK that IPPR is trying to address: how to reverse spiraling declines in health and prosperity for the most vulnerable.

IPPR recommends the creation of HAPIs as a national policy mechanism that would designate an area to receive focused investment, support and capacity building that would in turn help unlock health-focused solutions. HAPIs represent a targeted, place-based strategy, emphasizing community engagement and social investment, while also supporting tailored, evidence-based interventions based on specific community needs.

Interestingly, the U.S. has a track record utilizing similar policy concepts, most notably the Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax incentive, which was created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and focuses more exclusively on boosting economic investment in America’s lowest income census tracts by offering substantial capital gains tax relief. Opportunity Zones have a strong track record of success. According to the Economic Innovation Group, in a research brief asking “Are Opportunity Zones Working?”, OZs have seen a substantial $48 billion worth of direct equity investment and have impacted nearly 4,000 communities from 2018 to 2020. Noting the early success indicators of OZs, the report concludes, saying “For now, a close look at the most comprehensive data already makes clear that OZs are breaking new ground and challenging us to reimagine what federal tax policy can achieve in chronically distressed parts of the country.”

With the compelling economic impact of OZs to date, it begs the questions whether the model could also more directly address the health disparities in these zones, which are pronounced compared to the rest of the country. The Economic Innovation Group, citing data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), points out that “Individuals living in Opportunity Zones are less likely to take advantage of preventative health services, such as flu shots, mammograms, and dental care, and more likely to suffer from medical conditions that include asthma, diabetes, and heart disease versus those living in non-Opportunity Zone tracts.” In addition, they say, “The average obesity rate in these Opportunity Zones is 5.7 percentage points higher (37%) than non-Opportunity Zone tracts and nearly one-third of residents of these Opportunity Zones did not participate in any leisure-time physical activity, compared to 25 percent of residents of non-Opportunity Zone tracts.”

HAPIs would be better positioned to help mitigate health disparities like the ones listed above because they seek to unlock prosperity and health solutions together. Indeed, health-focused objectives are integrated into the core of the HAPI framework. Lawmakers in the U.S., and elsewhere, could learn from the HAPI model and should further consider how health can be better prioritized and integrated into policy mechanisms targeting our most vulnerable, including the existing OZ model.

In fact, in a recent call to action, six former U.S. Surgeons General, along with executives from many of the nation’s leading public health organizations, urged the policy community to better prioritize health. In an open letter to the nation’s policymakers, these public health leaders called for a significant change in how buildings and indoor environments are perceived—from mere structures to critical levers for advancing public health. The letter also laid out compelling evidence showing the outsized role buildings can play to enhance health outcomes, prevent disease and boost economic productivity.

In addition to general policymaking, we’ve also seen how health can play a bigger role in how the Opportunity Zone model is utilized. In Philadelphia’s Tioga neighborhood, TPP Capital Management Group, a Philadelphia based Black-led social impact private equity fund manager and urban healthcare real estate development firm, is pioneering a health-centric OZ model. TPP’s Tioga District project aims to make human health and well-being foundational to its approach, including a commitment to achieve WELL Community Certification. Their plan takes a comprehensive approach, integrating science-backed strategies and solutions like air filtration in residential and commercial spaces to help reduce pathogens, allergens, and other airborne pollutants; water purification to remediate water quality concerns; dynamic circadian lighting and comfort-focused technologies to help improve sleep quality and improve energy levels; native landscaping and light colored pavement and sidewalks shaded by trees to mitigate extreme heat and urban heat island effect; and offering community-wide fitness, mental health, and other social and community service activities. Their model, like HAPIs, embrace opportunities to create health and economic benefits simultaneously.

Moving forward, in future policy conversations in the U.S and other countries, we have a valuable opportunity to learn from the idea of Health and Prosperity Improvement Zones, which seek to deliver solutions that make a tangible impact on the health and wealth of our most vulnerable communities. Indeed, by tackling health inequities head-on, HAPIs signal an important policy step forward, offering the potential to transform the health of people’s lives and communities.

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