Rather than focus on the treatment of chronic disease, policies that influence population health tend to emphasize prevention and wellness; the reduction or elimination of waste and the eradication of health disparities based on race, ethnicity, language, income, gender, sexual orientation, disability and other factors. The reasoning is that good health belongs to the whole, not just an individual. (New York State Dept. of Health, n.d.)

Regardless of political affiliation, every citizen has a stake in healthcare policy decisions. Hence, it is little wonder why healthcare items become such high-profile components of presidential agendas. It is also little wonder why they become such hotly debated agenda items.

Consider a topic (mental health, HIV, opioid epidemic, pandemics, obesity, prescription drug prices, or many others) that rises to the presidential level. How did the current and previous presidents handle the problem? What would you do differently?

Reference: New York State Department of Health. (n.d.).  Making New York the healthiest state: Achieving the triple aim. Retrieved June 21, 2021 from



Be sure to review the Learning Resources before completing this activity. Click the weekly resources link to access the resources.


To Prepare:

· Review the Resources and reflect on the importance of agenda setting.

· Consider how federal agendas promote healthcare issues and how these healthcare issues become agenda priorities.


Post your response to the discussion question: Consider a population health topic that rises to the presidential agenda level. Which social determinant most affects this health issue? How did two recent presidents handle the problem? What would you do differently?


Respond to at least  two of your colleagues * on two different days by expanding on their response and providing an example that supports their explanation or respectfully challenging their explanation and providing an example.

*Note:  Throughout this program, your fellow students are referred to as colleagues.


Learning resources


Required readings

· Milstead, J. A., & Short, N. M. (2019).  Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

· Chapter 1, “Informing Public Policy: An Important Role for Registered Nurses” (pp. 11–13 only)

· Chapter 2, “Agenda Setting: What Rises to a Policymaker’s Attention?” (pp. 17–36)

· Chapter 10, “Overview: The Economics and Finance of Health Care” (pp. 171–180)

· Chapter 12, “An Insider’s Guide to Engaging in Policy Activities”

· “Creating a Fact Sheet” (pp. 217-221)

· DeMarco, R., & Tufts, K. A. (2014).  The mechanics of writing a policy briefLinks to an external site. .  Nursing Outlook, 62(3), 219–224.

· Kingdon, J.W. (2001). A model of agenda-setting with applications.  Law Review M.S.U.-D.C.LLinks to an external site. ., 2(331)

· Lamb, G., Newhouse, R., Beverly, C., Toney, D. A., Cropley, S., Weaver, C. A., Kurtzman, E., … Peterson, C. (2015).  Policy agenda for nurse-led care coordinationLinks to an external site. .  Nursing Outlook, 63(4), 521–530. doi:10.1016/j.outlook.2015.06.003.

· O’Rourke, N. C., Crawford, S. L., Morris, N. S., & Pulcini, J. (2017).  Political efficacy and participation of nurse practitionersLinks to an external site. .  Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice, 18(3), 135–148.

· Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Enhancing Environmental Health Content in Nursing Practice, Pope, A. M., Snyder, M. A., & Mood, L. H. (Eds.). (n.d.).  Nursing health, & environment Links to an external site.  Strengthening the relationship to improve the public’s health.

· (n.d.).  A-Z index of U.S. government departments and agencies Links to an external site. . Retrieved September 20, 2018, from

· (n.d.).  Branches of the US government Links to an external site. .

· The White House. (n.d.).  The cabinet Links to an external site. . Retrieved September 20, 2018, from

· Document:  Agenda Comparison Grid Template (Word document) Download Agenda Comparison Grid Template (Word document)


A population health topic that has risen to the presidential agenda level is the opioid epidemic. One of the social determinants most affecting this health issue is socioeconomic status. Poverty and economic instability can contribute to increased susceptibility to substance abuse and limited access to resources for treatment and recovery.

Two recent presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, addressed the opioid epidemic in different ways:

  1. Barack Obama: During his presidency, Obama focused on expanding access to treatment and prevention programs through initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA expanded Medicaid coverage for substance abuse treatment and required insurance plans to cover mental health and substance abuse services. Additionally, Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in 2016, which aimed to improve access to addiction treatment, expand the availability of naloxone (a medication used to reverse opioid overdose), and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs.
  2. Donald Trump: Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in 2017 and introduced various initiatives to combat the crisis. These initiatives included increasing funding for addiction treatment and recovery programs, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), implementing stricter prescribing guidelines for opioid medications, and launching public awareness campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of opioid misuse.

What I would do differently:

While both presidents made efforts to address the opioid epidemic, I believe more emphasis should be placed on addressing the underlying social determinants of health contributing to substance abuse. In addition to expanding access to treatment and prevention programs, I would focus on implementing comprehensive strategies to address poverty, unemployment, housing instability, and other socioeconomic factors that contribute to substance abuse and hinder recovery efforts. This could involve investing in education, job training, affordable housing, and community-based support services to provide individuals with the resources and support they need to overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery.

Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Social determinants of health: Know what affects health. Retrieved from

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