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mailmanAs the Poor People's Campaign begins its 40 days of communicating the ways poverty affects our people and nation it is important to look at how poverty affects health, causes suffering and costs all of us significant money.

As a public health official, I can state that it is clear that poverty directly affects a person's health. Their illnesses force them to struggle to maintain employment and productivity. They must use health care more to cope with their resultant illnesses and those illnesses cause expenses that increase health care premiums for everyone. If the person is covered by Medicaid, these expenses drive up property taxes since Medicaid is a major expense counties must pay for. If the person has no insurance, their visits to the emergency room become expenses for our hospitals and ultimately come out of our pockets too.

And, if those with low income who are uninsured or underinsured do not seek care at a reasonably early point they suffer advanced illness, require hospitalizations and surgeries, which are even more expensive.

Addressing poverty and its related effects can improve our nation's overall health, reduce infant death, decrease suffering and lower our nation's out of control health care expenditures. As you listen to the messages of the Poor People's Campaign keep in mind these public health facts.

Dr. William Klepack,
Tompkins County Health Department Medical Director

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