Regardless of income, Black women face death to give birth in America

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 1, 2023

recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that the wealthiest women and their infants are more likely to have better childbirth outcomes than those who are not. Unless they’re Black, that is, where new statistics reveal a disproportionate impact on people of color, regardless of income level. …

Experts cite the effects of systemic racism regardless of economic status. Black women encounter “untoward experiences” and face bias by medical professionals, conscious or unconscious. Some of these patients express concerns that their pain won’t be taken seriously. Others fear hospital security may be called based simply on the color of their skin.  

These experiences deny pregnant Black women — those able to pay — from receiving the care they deserve. We can’t ignore it; we must listen, learn and do the necessary work to minimize this community’s unacceptably high risk of pregnancy complications. 

The Inflation Reduction Act alone won’t lower prescription drug costs

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

February 9, 2023

People are choosing between paying for essential medications and putting food on their tables. The Biden administration took steps last year to control runaway prescription drug costs as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). But many of the bill’s provisions fall short, and some are years away from helping Americans gain access to drugs at a reasonable cost. …

President Biden should be applauded for doing more than any other president in recent history to try and address the issue of skyrocketing prescription drug prices. The Inflation Reduction Act is an important start — but the problem is nowhere close to being solved.  

Lawmakers must continue to push for faster reductions in prescription drug prices and create incentives for health insurers to cover the widest array of pharmaceutical options on their formularies. Then, and only then, will we have a strong reason to celebrate.

Extending SNAP support should be a no-brainer in this economy

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

January 13, 2023

The Agriculture Improvement Act, known as the farm bill, is up for renewal this year and lawmakers will soon debate whether to extend key provisions that currently help 34 million people suffering from food insecurity in America.  

But in today’s divisive political environment, where 15 voting rounds are needed to elect a Speaker of the U.S. House, the likelihood that our leaders will reach a consensus on this important legislation, sadly, seems entirely unthinkable. …

The bill’s current term, which expires later this year (unless Congress acts), has a total budget of $867 billion, where nearly 80 percent of it funds food stamp programs (now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP).  

SNAP is the most important tool we have in combatting America’s hunger crisis. But over the years, its inclusion in the farm bill has been at the center of an ugly tug-of-war between two fiercely divided parties on Capitol Hill. …

As Congress demonstrates where they stand when they debate and vote on this year’s bill, the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans hang in the balance. 

The homeless crisis should be an omnibus bill priority

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

December 16, 2022

Once again we find ourselves on the brink of a government shutdown. As today’s deadline neared, Congressional leaders scrambled to pass a stopgap measure to keep the lights on for another week as they negotiate a bipartisan omnibus bill that would fund the government and advance key initiatives for the next fiscal year. 

The main sticking point centers on how much the U.S. should allocate toward domestic spending. A $26 billion stalemate stands in the way of both parties reaching a consensus, according to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). As lawmakers horse trade and deal make over the next week to avoid a repeat of what occurred in 2019, over a half-million homeless Americans — including many veterans — hope they won’t be a casualty of the current game of chicken taking place on Capitol Hill.

America’s universities are failing students facing mental health crises

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

November 24, 2022

This Thanksgiving, college students across the nation are taking a temporary break from classes to celebrate at home with family and friends. Yet for students struggling with thoughts of suicide and other serious mental health issues, some may be told not to return to campus. … Congress has done little to provide funding to understand the stresses and challenges students are confronting. And many universities aren’t providing students the support they need to be healthy and resilient. 

We’re using 1960s guidance to measure poverty in 2022

U.S. Census Bureau data released this fall sparked national attention over the historic drop in U.S. child poverty statistics for 2021. Many believe these figures will climb again following the expiration of many pandemic stimulus programs. 

Still, lessons can be learned from these numbers regarding what we as a nation can do to lower the suffering millions of Americans face every day. The biggest one: The way we measure poverty in America today is horribly outdated and requires a serious overhaul. 

Hunger was once a bipartisan issue – will it ever be again?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


Nearly 50 years ago, President Richard Nixon organized the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health where he called on Congress to take action to address America’s hunger crisis. … The Biden administration is preparing to host a similar forum later this month — the first presidential-led initiative of its kind in nearly half a century — to solve this continuing problem. Yet today, we lack the same bipartisan commitment Nixon showed to make this moment count for millions of underserved Americans who face every day without enough food to eat.  … Ending hunger in America is within our reach. Statistics from 2021 prove it can be done. The only thing standing in our way is an expression of political will from both sides to get it done. 

The loss of Roe complicates Biden’s plan for safer pregnancies

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 26, 2022

Climate change, deficit reduction and Medicare reform were the headline achievements of President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act which the president has called “one of the most significant laws in our history.” … Passage of this law now brings renewed hope to Biden’s broader legislative agenda, especially in the field of public health. Part of that push involves an effort by the administration to tackle an issue that for years has disproportionately affected women, especially those of color: maternal mortality. Biden should be commended for focusing energy and federal resources to address it — but timing is everything, as they say, and Biden’s attempt to improve maternal health in America could not have come at a worse moment.

Monkeypox: Have we learned nothing from AIDS or COVID?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 27, 2022

This weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern.” That’s a rare designation from the WHO, one they’ve reserved to describe just two other diseases — COVID-19 and polio. Yet once again, the nation seems blissfully ignorant to the early warning signs of an outbreak that bears striking resemblance to the start of COVID-19 and the AIDS epidemic. …

If COVID-19 proved anything it showed that a piecemeal response to a global health crisis is a recipe for disaster. We need our elected leaders to step forward, declare monkeypox a national emergency, and announce a coordinated approach to confront it. We need more vaccines, more testing centers, more education and more funding. If we don’t act now, we’ll simply repeat the mistakes of the past. 

The domino effect of overturning Roe goes well beyond abortion

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 13, 2022

The ripple effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s move to overturn Roe v. Wade are still being understood as the availability of abortion-related services diminishes rapidly across the country. One of many potential consequences of the court’s decision involves the health of all women, pregnant or not, who reside in nearly half the states that have either banned or significantly limited abortion rights or have similar laws in motion.  

Will an increasing number of medical professionals choose to work in pro-choice states, and cause a decline in the accessibility of medical authorities in states where abortion rights are restricted? As OB-GYNs consider moving across state lines, what impact would their departure have on the availability of general women’s health care in the communities they leave behind?