Research Horizons


Dr. Beck Goes to Washington

Andrew Beck, MD, MPH, represented Cincinnati Children’s during a Sept. 7, 2022, forum at the White House, which included discussions about improving child health with representatives of President Biden’s administration as well as government officials from Ohio.

The event was dubbed “Communities in Action: Building a Better Ohio.” About 50 people participated, and “we talked about social determinants of health, population health, and health equity explicitly,” Beck said after returning to Cincinnati.

Beck is an attending physician in the Divisions of General and Community Pediatrics and Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s. His research and improvement interests focus on the intersection of neighborhood and health, the social determinants of health, and population health equity. He co-leads an institutional Health Equity Network composed of clinical teams working to improve outcomes and eliminate inequities.

At the White House, Beck was joined by Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval and Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Kearney. Beck is a member of the city’s Child & Family Cabinet, which provides guidance on health and safety issues affecting children to Cincinnati leaders.

Also at the event were all three Hamilton County commissioners, Denise Driehaus, Alicia Reece, and Stephanie Summerow Dumas.

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Representatives of President Biden’s administration included: Marcia Fudge, an Ohioan who is secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator; Julie Rodriguez, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, now director of public engagement; and Anita Dunn, senior advisor to the president. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Columbus, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, also attended.

Beck said it was amazing to see, and hear from, the cross section of Ohio present in the room. “There were business, labor, and nonprofit leaders, educators, and elected officials. I loved that our sector was also represented,” said Beck, one of three physicians from Ohio who attended.

He has been involved with the White House Health Equity Leaders Roundtable for the last several months, which resulted in the invitation. At Cincinnati Children’s, Beck is a faculty co-lead for Population and Community Health, and for the All Children Thrive Learning Network. He is also medical director for population health research and innovation for Cincinnati Children’s HealthVine, an accountable care organization for 135,000 Medicaid-covered children in Southwest Ohio.

Another member of the White House Health Equity Leaders Roundtable who participated in the Washington gathering was O.N. Ray Bignall II, MD, who spent seven years at Cincinnati Children’s as a resident and fellow before departing in 2018. Bignall is now assistant chief diversity and health equity officer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

For Beck, meeting Marcia Fudge, the HUD secretary who previously represented Cleveland in Congress, was a highlight of the trip. One of the things he discussed with Fudge, who is a lawyer, was Child HeLP, the innovative medical-legal partnership between Cincinnati Children’s primary care centers and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. The program helps patient families resolve legal and social issues that often undermine the health and well-being of their children.

“I had a conversation with her about how important and influential housing quality is for the health of a child,” Beck said. “I mentioned the medical-legal partnership, and Secretary Fudge suggested that all children should have access to legal representation. I handed Secretary Fudge a copy of our recent Health Affairs study highlighting the benefit of such legal advocacy on health outcomes.”

Beck, who has co-led the Cincinnati Children’s team that provides data and situational awareness for the regional COVID response, also got to speak with Jha, the COVID-19 response coordinator for the White House.

“Dr. Jha provided a primer on where we are with respect to the pandemic and the booster rollout,” Beck said. “Later, we had the chance to speak directly about the need to invest in better public health capabilities – to finally get rid of fax machines and build 21st century infrastructure that works for the 21st century, which will prepare us to confront complex challenges like future phases of COVID or the next pandemic.”

The White House event “highlighted the importance and relevance of having experts from across sectors, including health care, in the room for discussions about the direction of our country, state, and region,” Beck said.

“When I had the opportunity to address the room, I was proud to voice Cincinnati Children’s vision to be the leader in improving child health,” Beck said. “I highlighted our methods – our commitment to child-centeredness, to partnership, and to equity. And I shared the work of so many from across our institution and community with national figures who have the ear of the president. I left inspired and humbled, with full confidence that the future for Cincinnati’s kids can be bright if we, together, make it so.”