Health Care

Former US Health and Human Services Secretary and Former US Senate Majority Leader Call for Big Ideas on Incarceration and Health

June 3, 2021  • Kathleen Sebelius & Bill Frist

Former US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and former US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist are co-chairs of the Aspen Health Strategy Group (AHSG).The Aspen Health Strategy Group is comprised of 20 senior leaders across influential sectors including health, business, media, technology, who are tasked with providing recommendations on important and complex health issues to promote improvements in policy and practice.

Each year the AHSG tackles one issue for a year long, in depth study. This year’s topic is incarceration and health. Do you have a big idea to tackle this issue? Submit it to us online by filling out a short form.

Health care and health outcomes of incarcerated people in the US are under reported and poorly understood. With over two million people behind bars, the United States has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world (Prison Policy Initiative). Incarcerated people face higher rates of infectious disease, mental health problems, sexual assault, violence, and substance use and addiction (American Academy of Family Physicians).The families of those incarcerated and the communities in which they live face negative health impacts as well. Incarceration and health—the health issues related to incarcerated people and the health impact of high rates of incarceration on communities in the US is a systems-level health justice issue that disproportionately affects communities of color.

What kind of health care do incarcerated persons receive, and what are the implications for community spread of contagious disease? Additionally, what are the health concerns when incarcerated people leave prison and return to society? These are the kinds of questions the Aspen Health Strategy Group will explore and address.

In the tradition of the thought-provoking conversations and ideas shared at Aspen Ideas Health about how to solve critical societal issues, we are looking for big ideas that will transform the way we are addressing incarceration and health in our country. They should be “big” – as in meaningful and bold – and “ideas” as in reflecting thought and not simply an exhortation that someone do something they should be doing already.

We know that good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, so we are opening up our solicitation for big ideas to everyone. If you have an idea for addressing incarceration and health, we hope you will share it with us. The AHSG staff and members will select up to five that will be included in a paper that will be prepared later in the year. This isn’t a competition – there is no prize – but your big idea just might become the starting point for much-needed change in healthcare.

For complete information about our guidelines, and to submit your big idea, go here.