Let’s harness our heritage to revitalize Tennessee main streets and communities (The Tennessean)

THE TENNESSEAN |Tennessee is rich in history, but the physical evidence of our heritage is increasingly threatened by our state’s dramatic growth. The structures that have served for generations as the center of spiritual, social, cultural and economic vitality are being torn down or left in disrepair because of the misguided notion that it’s always cheaper to build something new rather than restore and preserve the old.

For example, in rural areas across the state the inability to save important historic structures or landscapes that once played a vital role in the success and identity of those communities is widespread. Buildings around our many courthouse squares, within “Main Street” districts or places that were once farming homesteads are disappearing due to neglect, the lack of adequate financial resources or, like our cities, threatened by uncontrolled development.

Just in my hometown of Nashville, the nationally celebrated Music Row, which tells the story of country music and planted the seeds that built Music City USA, is being demolished at an alarming rate. Between 2013 and 2019, at least 55 music-related buildings were torn down, replaced by apartment and condominium buildings. The places that defined the heart and soul of Nashville, and of Tennessee, are quickly disappearing.

There is a way to save and revitalize the storied buildings of our downtowns and communities while repurposing them to spur economic growth at the local level. The answer is enacting a state historic preservation tax credit. The credit works by incentivizing substantial rehabilitation of historic buildings for income-producing or business use. It requires preservation of the historic character of the property and makes it feasible to preserve older structures that would otherwise be too cost-prohibitive to renovate or restore. Simultaneously, it can save our state’s tangible past in a way that conserves resources, reduces waste and creates jobs.

Read the full article here: https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2022/12/01/opinion-harness-heritage-to-revitalize-our-main-streets-communities/69687722007/

Cultivating A Culture Of Health: How Comprehensive Community-Wide Hypertension Data Are Inspiring Heath Equity (Forbes)

FORBES | It’s no secret that the best data often begets the best policy, especially when it comes to community health and wellness. Having accurate, timely, and well-informed data is often the difference maker that allows communities to dramatically move the needle on health disparities.

When it comes to health disparities, the city of Nashville can – and must – do better. Nashville is known nationally as a health services capital, yet our own community health and well-being statistics rank far worse than the cities we compete with on a daily basis.

For many, this comes as a surprise. Nashville is filled with top-level academic institutions, nationally renowned hospitals, and tremendous economic growth, and it is home to some of the largest health and hospital systems in the country. But when compared to cities like Austin, Charlotte, Denver, and Dallas, we have the worst life expectancy and highest rates of infant mortality, smoking, and number of poor mental health days by far.

How can Nashville, an otherwise thriving city, work to ensure that every single one of our community members has an opportunity for a healthy life?

Read more at Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrist/2022/08/18/cultivating-a-culture-of-health-how-comprehensive-community-wide-hypertension-data-are-inspiring-heath-equity/?sh=388ce0817018

A Call For Data Equity: Using Pandemic Data Mishaps To Improve Health Outcomes (Forbes)

FORBES | Where we live determines how long we live. Read that again.

Health disparities, in large part, are determined by where we live. In Nashville—a city that prides itself on being a renowned healthcare hub—life expectancy increases 5 years by moving to the neighboring Williamson County. Similar patterns hold true in other cities all over the U.S.

For those of us in public health, this unfortunate reality is not surprising. Structural racism—the category of racism that stems from the very infrastructure of our communities—has long determined unjust resource allocation. Inequitable access to things like quality education, nutritional foods, and healthcare services can lead to poorer health outcomes.

Connecting the dots, it’s easy to see how ZIP code can be more predictive of health than genetic code.

Health disparities, especially those stemming from the location of our homes, were only heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, ZIP code determined access to testing sites, personal protective equipment, and vaccine availability.

Read the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrist/2022/01/11/a-call-for-data-equity-using-pandemic-data-mishaps-to-improve-health-outcomes/?sh=4ba1f6485e65

What a Difference a Decade Makes

(The Hill, May 28, 2013)

By Rep. Barbara Lee and Bill Frist

A Democratic Congresswoman and a former Republican Senator aren’t afforded many opportunities to work together. Especially at a time of fiscal crisis when every dollar is scrutinized and fought over, partisanship pushes us into opposite corners. But we agree on a program that truly has bipartisan support, saves millions of lives a year, and contributes directly to stability, security and economic growth worldwide.

Ten years ago this May, when the AIDS pandemic was at its worst, ravaging many African countries and a sure death sentence for millions, our country responded in an unprecedented way. We both, along with the late Republican Congressman Henry Hyde and the late Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, worked with the Congressional Black Caucus and a bipartisan group of legislators to address this enormous problem. Soon after, in 2003, then-President George W. Bush instated PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, pledging $15 billion over five years to combat the spread of HIV, prevent further infections and improve access to care for millions of people across the globe.  Each year since then, Congress, with bipartisan support, has stood behind the program, providing critical funding to enable PEPFAR to truly help change the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic.

Now, a decade later, PEPFAR’s success isn’t just measured in dollars spent, but in lives saved and communities improved. The Institute of Medicine called the program “transformational” in global health.

PEPFAR has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for nearly 5.1 million men, women and children around the world, and is helping prevent hundreds of thousands of mother-to-child transmissions, an essential step toward achieving an AIDS-free generation. Engaging women is crucial to the broader goal; about half of the people living with HIV worldwide are women, and their empowerment is critical to beating this disease. PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 11 million pregnant women in 2012 alone.

Because of PEPFAR, we’re not just working toward an AIDS-free generation, we’re achieving an AIDS-free generation.

All around the world, PEPFAR is caring both for the health of the individual and the health of communities. The medications and programs supported by PEPFAR are so effective that people living with HIV/AIDS are doing just that — living. Infected individuals can care for their families and hold jobs. Communities enjoy economic stability. The United States earns a positive reputation.

But we are at a tipping point to truly realize this vision. If we back away now, the gains we’ve made will evaporate; the success we’ve had will disappear. Support of PEPFAR now is as important as it was 10 years ago.

HIV is a virus, not an ideology. Democrats and Republicans should be proud of PEPFAR’s legacy and continue to support it moving forward, providing the program with the robust funding it still needs to help achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Lee serves on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and is founding co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus and represents the United States on the United Nations’ Global Commission on HIV and the Law. Frist is adjunct professor of surgery at Vanderbilt and Meharry medical schools and former majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

This article was originally featured in The Hill http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/302249-what-a-difference-a-decade-makes-