A Policy Agenda for a Healthier, More Equitable N.J.
At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we believe New Jersey—our home state—should be a place where everyone can live the healthiest life possible, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how much money they have.
The state’s demographic, social, and economic characteristics, paired with significant investments in health-promoting efforts from various sectors, should position New Jersey to attain this vision of a more equitable and just place.
However, health and wellbeing have never been fairly distributed in the state. Health inequity—the uneven distribution of social and economic resources that affect an individual’s health—persists in New Jersey despite renewed attention to and investment in addressing disparities. That is because investment alone cannot achieve equity; a growing body of research places structural racism—the unjust and unfair policies, practices, and norms underlying every aspect of our society—at the core of persistent inequity.
A Policy Agenda for a Healthier, More Equitable New Jersey examines what a better New Jersey would look like, what obstacles block it, and what actions are needed. In addition to examining a history of discrimination and how it creates barriers to health, the report offers policy recommendations in the areas of affordable housing, birth and reproductive justice, public health infrastructure, and building community power to drive change. Read a brief overview of the report.
Recommended Policy Options
- Establish a state task force to assess how New Jersey’s Black residents have been harmed throughout state history and propose actionable steps to the state Legislature, agency officials, and other officials as appropriate.
- Create and fund an interagency equity working group to provide leadership on cross-sector collaboration.
- Assess the impact of significant new legislation and regulations on racial equity within New Jersey.
- Acknowledge the presence and effects of structural racism and identify opportunities to repair harm and plan action.
Recommended Policy Options:
- Invest in producing more affordable and safe homes across all communities.
- Promote racially-equitable land use and zoning policy to provide opportunities for more people to live in neighborhoods that support good health and wellbeing.
- Strategically implement and leverage innovative strategies to facilitate racially-equitable homeownership.
- Establish and fund a right-to-counsel for low-income renters.
- Continue to support and invest in a diverse workforce aware of bias and provide appropriate care across the maternal and infant care and education continuum.
- Implement new Medicaid policy in a way that supports racial equity.
- Enhance access to comprehensive reproductive health, including abortion care.
- Enhance enforcement of the existing paid leave benefit and increase participation.
Recommended Policy Options:
- Provide adequate and flexible funding and maximize existing assets to support public health services and capabilities.
- Establish a state Public Health Institute to facilitate collaboration within and across sectors to improve health equity.
- Increase state investments to transform public health data systems to center equity and include practical, flexible data-sharing processes.
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