Washington is no lost cause

feds have made great strides in advancing public health

November 11, 2011

In his thoughtful commentary "Think nationally, act locally" (Nov. 9), Howard County Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilenson urges people to do all they can at the local level to advance important societal goals.

I believe, however, that Dr. Beilenson was too quick to declare Washington a "lost cause." Under the leadership of President Obama, the federal government has made great strides in recent years to advance important public health goals, including the 2009 law authorizing the FDA to regulate tobacco, which will save many lives, and the landmark Affordable Care Act, which will expand health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

Similarly, under the leadership of Gov. Martin O'Malley we have expanded health care in Maryland to over 250,000 parents, children and seniors, and substantially decreased smoking by raising taxes on tobacco and making public places smoke free.

People should certainly heed Dr. Beilenson's call to be active at the local level. But they should also keep working at the federal and state levels to build on our successes there.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

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