Elected officials are key to creating health policy that has a profound impact on public healthcare. It is important for nurses to be aware of ongoing health legislature and remain in contact with elected officials to offer professional input and advocate for change. This report seeks to investigate the political background of a local official and attempt to find their approach to key health policies.
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The elected official selected for this project is Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat on the Florida State Senate representing Miami-Dade. Rodriguez is a lifelong resident of Miami and heavily participated in the community. He attended Brown University and Harvard Law School as well as served in the Peace Corps. He taught at the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at Florida International University and engaged in public service before starting a political career by running for House of Representatives from the 112th district in 2012 (The Florida Senate, n.d.).
Rodriguez served one term in the Florida House of Representatives and was elected in 2016 for his first term in Florida Senate after a new 37th district was created, which included his home. He is a vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee as well as a part of the Ethics and Elections and Rules committees. He is also a part of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. Before being elected, he worked on the Community Relations Board and Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee, holding leadership roles (The Florida Senate, n.d.). His public service is based on helping the local community in Miami, and his constituents include numerous Hispanics and minorities as well as labor groups.
Current Policy Agenda
Senator Rodriguez is very active on a number of legislative fronts, focusing on both public and business-focused bills. His past legislature has included support for public health, incarcerated women, and the prohibition of conversion therapy for minors. He has also co-authored bills on funds and management for public infrastructure projects, small businesses, and private property rights (The Florida Senate, n.d.).
His approach to legislation focuses on public well-being through competent governance. He adopts a stance on vital issues for the Miami-Dade community, including inequality, climate change, healthcare, and infrastructure. The selected health bill for this interview is regarding school health immunizations (SB 356) which should be revised to include the vaccine for human papillomavirus and other potential immunizations deemed a health risk in current society.
Why do you believe school immunizations should include more mandatory vaccines?
Answer: Immunizations are a controversial topic, particularly when it comes to kids. However, as medical science evolves, more vaccinations for diseases become available, and they demonstrate results by preventing transmissions or harmful effects. SB 356 was introduced as part of the federal program to combat cervical cancer, the immunization for HPV has demonstrated significant benefits for prevention.
How does that have an overall impact on social health?
Answer: It is a well-known fact that if a large percent of the population has the vaccine, then herd immunity is created, which protects the whole locality from a disease. This undeniably has positive effects on social health (Mallory, Lindesmith, & Baric, 2018). Furthermore, immunizations delivered for school enrollment are often free or subsidized for everyone. Therefore, it can significantly contribute to expanding access to healthcare, which can lead to further observations by a doctor and improve an individual’s health, in turn, impacting the whole society.
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Why do you believe healthcare and equality are interconnected?
Answer: Everyone should have unwavering access to healthcare as a human right. Many minorities are discriminated against on many levels, including once they enter the healthcare system. I support bills that attempt to prohibit discrimination or unfair treatment of minorities, such as one preventing conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors. Unfortunately, numerous minorities are faced with risk factors and diseases that need to be addressed, and eliminating inequality will strongly contribute to overall public health.
Should non-health public institutions such as schools do more to contribute to overall healthcare?
Answer: Yes, I believe so, either through action, promotion, education, or advocacy, the public institutions hold an important role in the community. With a competent approach with guidance from local nurses, these facilities can implement public programs or advocate for legislation such as SB 356 that would influence more people to care about their own individual health as well as the overall state of population health and the national healthcare system.
The impression of Senator Rodriguez after studying his biography, legislative goals, and achievements and reading his previous interviews is that he is a dedicated public servant with a sincere desire to help Miami residents. Senator Rodriguez seems to be aware that health policy and outcomes are shaped by a combination of various sectors and governance. Engagement can be achieved through policy and comprehensive approach by resolving issues in social values such as inequality and providing adequate infrastructures such as schools, parks, and community centers where positive health behavior can be promoted. Integration of health policy and action strongly depends on other vital elements of the community (Leeuw, 2017).
Furthermore, the Senator demonstrates high moral character and has made wise decisions as well as sacrifices, such as choosing to remain in local legislation to focus on Miami’s development instead of running for Congress, where he stood a good chance to win. Overall, he left a positive impression of an elected official that has and will continue to strongly contribute to Miami’s health policy.
The Florida Senate. (n.d.). Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez. Web.
Leeuw, E. D. (2017). Engagement of sectors other than health in integrated health governance, policy, and action. Annual Review of Public Health, 38(1), 329-349. Web.
Mallory, M. L., Lindesmith, L. C., & Baric, R. S. (2018). Vaccination-induced herd immunity: Successes and challenges. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 142(1), 64-66. Web.