Yesterday, the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era published the report of its four-year investigations. I was a member of the Commission, so have a special interest in this report.
The Executive Summary
Convened shortly after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the Lancet Commission on public policy and health in the Trump era, offers the first comprehensive assessment of the detrimental legislation and executive actions during Trump’s presidency with devastating effects on every aspect of health in the USA. The Lancet Commission traces the decades of policy failures that preceded and fueled Trump’s ascent and left the USA lagging behind other high-income nations on life expectancy. The report warns that a return to pre-Trump era policies is not enough to protect health. Instead, sweeping reforms are needed to redress long-standing racism, weakened social and health safety nets that have deepened inequality, and calls on the important role of health professionals in advocating for health care reform in the USA.
The bottom line (as stated by Dr. Kevin Grumbach in the announcement video): “Trump committed medical malpractice.”
The Commission’s process
Commission members were appointed in 2017, met in Atlanta soon after, held a conference at Boston University in 2018, and met again early in 2019. I drafted the section on food and nutrition, no surprise, and also worked on the box on what happened in Puerto Rico, in which I have a particular interest (I taught a class there in 2003 with the anthropologist, Sidney Mintz, who wrote Sweetness and Power). Other members drafted other parts. The co-chairs, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, pulled it all together and established its direction and voice. Food politics is a small part of this report (see section 6), but I was happy to get it included. It gave me a chance to complain, once again, about the forced move of the USDA’s Economic Research Service to Kansas City, something I consider to be a national tragedy, and to talk about how the Trump Administration attempted to destroy SNAP and undermine school meal standards.