Leveraging the Healthcare Sector to Deploy $80B in Unused Federal Aid

In this webinar, Dr. Alister Martin, CEO and Founder of A Healthier Democracy, shares his reflections on the need to move our efforts upstream of health-related social needs, upstream even of the social determinants of health, to target the structural determinants of health.

He illustrates this with two initiatives under the umbrella of A Healthier Democracy: Vot-ER, which engages health care providers and facilities in voter registration, and Link Health which utilizes healthcare waiting rooms to connect Americans with $80 Billion of untapped federal and state cash aid programs to directly impact their lives. As one example, Link Health connects patients to the Affordable Connectivity Program, doing 90% of the work to sign people up for federal aid that will help them get a digital device and offset the cost of internet access. This same model can be used to connect patients to federal aid for emergency rental assistance and the Child Tax Credit.

An older Black woman is holding a sign at an outdoor protest that reads: "Protect My Health Care"

Leveraging the Healthcare Sector to Deploy $80B in Unused Federal Aid with Dr. Alister Martin, CEO of A Healthier Democracy

from Rx Foundation’s Power is a Social Determinant of Health series

Session description: In the U.S., there are over 60 million eligible yet unregistered voters. These voters often feel the government does not care about them, nor trust it to make a difference in their lives. They are also the same groups most marginalized by our healthcare system. Healthcare facilities offer unique opportunities to engage these individuals, with healthcare professionals acting as reliable conduits of trust. A Healthier Democracy runs two national programs, Link Health and its sister initiative, Vot-ER, which utilize healthcare waiting rooms to connect Americans with $80 Billion of untapped federal and state aid programs to directly impact their lives and then help them register to vote. This combination of healthcare and non-partisan democratic engagement harnesses interdisciplinary expertise to address health equity, rebuild trust in government, and empower the most vulnerable patients in our democracy – helping to demonstrate that the government does care and that all voices do matter.

To watch the full webinar, please fill out our Google Form to receive an email with a direct link and password within 1-3 business days.

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To watch the full webinar, please fill out our Google Form to receive an email with a direct link and password within 1-3 business days.

Session Highlights

Healthcare, philanthropy, activism and organizing need to go upstream to address the structural determinants of health through policy, law and systems change; moving from a reactive to proactive response
Addressing the structural determinants of health – or the causes of the causes of poor health (social determinants of health) – is necessary to achieve health justice (i.e. what causes homelessness?)
When we examine the data, the neighborhoods and zip codes with low voter turnout are the same that have lower life expectancy, an indicator of the health disparities they face
Combatting disillusionment and disengagement with our civic processes requires rebuilding trust in the government and institutions
Link Health, a cash assistance program, connects patients to more than $80B in unused federal benefits
5–24% of Americans lack broadband internet connection, a foundational requirement for telehealth and the bevy of other services that underpin the social determinants of health
While Medicaid beneficiaries automatically qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program, only 32% of eligible households are enrolled
Healthcare settings are a crucial entrypoint for registering voters and connecting people to eligible aid programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program, Emergency Rental Assistance program, Child Tax credit information, and more

Connect with A Healthier Democracy

If you’re interested in connecting with Dr. Alister Martin, or to generally learn more about any of A Healthier Democracy’s initiatives, you can reach him or his team: [email protected].


Dr. Alister Martin (he/him), MD MPP, CEO and Founder of A Healthier Democracy

Dr. Alister Martin is an ER physician and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School and was a former Chief Resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He was a former Biden Administration appointee serving as an advisor in the Office of the Vice President under Kamala Harris as an appointed White House Fellow. He served as a former Health Policy Aide to Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Congressman Raul Ruiz of California. He leverages his background in politics, policy, and the field of behavioral economics to use healthcare settings as a place to build programs that serve the needs of vulnerable patients.

He is the founder of Vot-ER, a nonpartisan voter registration organization that has organized over 26,000 healthcare providers and 300 hospitals to help non-urgent patients register to vote. He is the founder of Get Waivered, a program that is converting our nation’s ERs into the front door for opioid addiction treatment and was instrumental in the organizing efforts resulting in the removal of the X waiver provision. He also co-founded GOTVax, an initiative aimed at leveraging a get out the vote framework to deliver vaccines directly to vulnerable communities via hyper-targeted vaccine pop up clinics. He currently serves as CEO of A Healthier Democracy, a nonprofit healthcare organizing incubator which leverages healthcare workers and healthcare settings as a place to build programs and movements that serve the needs of vulnerable patients.

Alister’s work has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, British Medical Journal, and has been featured in outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC, the Washington Post, BBC, and Scientific American. Alister earned his MD from Harvard Medical School as a Presidential Scholar, his Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School as a fellow in the Center for Public Leadership, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Rutgers University where he was a Division 1 tennis player.

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