Wayne State University School of Medicine Professor of Medicine Herbert Smitherman Jr., M.D., M.P.H., FACP, traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to participate in a dialogue at the White House with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and other leaders and staff within the Biden-Harris administration.
Dr. Smitherman was one of 30 community leaders and elected officials from Michigan invited to Communities in Action: Building a Better Michigan, a meeting held Oct. 12 to discuss and provide feedback to the Biden administration.
Invitees were local leaders working on behalf of their communities to create opportunities and improve people’s everyday lives. In addition to his role on the School of Medicine faculty, Dr. Smitherman is president and chief executive officer of Health Centers Detroit Foundation Inc.
“The many discussions in the meeting revolved around sharing the impact the Biden-Harris administration legislation has had within our communities and on the issues that matter most to Michiganders,” he said. “The administration was also interested in learning ways we could continue partnering with them in the future.”
Topics included the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act; the American Rescue Plan Act; COVID-19 strategy; infrastructure legislation; legislation to expanded health care to millions of Americans; actions to combat the climate crisis and reduce emissions; the CHIPS and Science Act, which will accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.; actions to address gun violence; and actions to address gender-based violence.
“Our own Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, talked about renewable energy strategies and the administration’s big steps toward a future made in America. We also discussed the positive impact of their legislation on lowering health care costs for millions of families, finally allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time and caps on seniors’ out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year,” he said.
The Michigan delegation also provided feedback regarding the issue of a rising cost of living.
“Our delegation strongly suggested the administration must speak to the American people about the increased pricing of goods and services and the affordability question,” Dr. Smitherman said. “Although the administration has done a lot in only 18 months, approval ratings are about the visceral now. Granted, there was a discussion about some of the price inflation is simply corporate profiteering off of COVID, Hurricane Ian, et cetera, it was a good dialogue.”