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Virginia Doc Says Economic Woes = Health Woes

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Monday, October 29, 2007   

Richmond, VA – When people make less money, they get sicker. A Virginia physician and professor believes it's a statement that should sound an alarm for those concerned about the future of medicine. He says today's economic consequences will overwhelm the nation's healthcare system for years to come.

Dr. Steven Woolf at Virginia Commonwealth University suggests adding up the evidence: Poverty rates have increased; the income gap between the very rich and very poor is widening; and almost every American is seeing less income when adjusted for inflation…

"If you look at the data, you'll see that, except for the upper one percent of the very affluent, for everybody else, income rates have fallen since 2000. This economic shift occurring in the past few years is going to play out in the form of more severe disease, both for current adults as well as children."

Woolf, who teaches in the VCU Departments of Family Medicine, and Epidemiology and Community Health, says poor health has been scientifically linked to lower incomes, and will swamp a medical profession that already faces the prospect of caring for a booming senior citizen population in coming decades. He published his findings in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Read the full article online, at jama.ama-assn.org


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