Can we eliminate health disparities without addressing wealth disparities?

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Our colleague, Claudio Schuftan passed along a link to the video below regarding wealth inequality in the US, a topic that has been re-introduced into the national debate by the Occupy Movement.

The issue of wealth inequality has enormous implications for health disparities.  Johann Peter Frank’s classic paper , The People’s Misery: Mother of Diseases, (now available online) shows that physicians even in 1790 understood the connections between poverty and ill-health. Indeed, the statistical evidence linking poverty and disease (or health and wealth) was so strong that William Farr, considered by some as the father of medical statistics, remarked in 1839 that “diseases are the iron index of misery.

The data on wealth disparities presented in this video poses a question:  is it is possible to meaningfully address health disparities in the US without addressing these massive transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor that has taken place since the Reagan Revolution in the 1980′s? If we attend to the bulk of the evidence, the answer is probably no. But this leaves us with the question, how do we reduce wealth disparities when the Congress has become a club of millionaires?

Any thoughts?

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