Two faculty members from the UCLA School of Public Health will fly to Washington, D.C., to give lawmakers their two cents on how federal money should be spent toward health matters.
Last month, President Barack Obama chose Linda Rosenstock, dean of the School of Public Health, and Jonathan Fielding, a professor of health services and pediatrics, to serve on the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health.
The professors are among the first appointees to the new advisory group, which Obama formed as a part of a national public health council last June.
As members of the group, Rosenstock and Fielding will play an important role in implementing the health care reform bill, said Fernando Torres-Gil, associate dean of academic affairs at the School of Public Affairs who is serving in his third federally appointed position.
“They will have access, influence, and they will be able to make a difference,” said Torres-Gil, the current vice chair of the National Council on Disability.
The group will suggest where funds from the health care bill should go, Rosenstock said, adding that she was thrilled to be part of something that she felt was important.
She also said she was excited to have a high-level position to advise across different sectors of the government.
“The goal (of the group) is to introduce the idea that health is not just confined to the doctor’s office (and) to advance the idea of thinking of health in all policies,” Rosenstock said.
She said the group will propose cooperative policies across governmental departments to solve national health problems.
For example, to tackle the obesity epidemic, the Department of Education could increase physical activity in schools, Rosenstock said.
She added that urban development agencies could work with communities to create safe places for people to exercise, and the Department of Transportation could construct more walkways.
There could also be stricter food labels for nutrition.
Emphasizing preventative health could stop people from going to the doctor’s office in the first place and improve the health of the nation as a whole, Rosenstock said.
The group will meet a few times a year in Washington, D.C., to hash out policies, said Kim Kovacs, executive director of UCLA federal relations.
To be appointed to the advisory group, Fielding and Rosenstock faced a rigorous selection process, Rosenstock said.
Rosenstock’s past experience includes running a federal agency, and she is an expert in public health education and workplace and preventative health.
Fielding, who serves as the director of the Los Angles County’s Department of Public Health, is an expert in health services and health promotion, according to the School of Public Health’s website.
Fielding could not be reached for comment.
Rosenstock and Fielding are only the most recent Bruin faculty to serve in federally appointed positions.
Currently, about a dozen UCLA faculty members serve in the Obama administration in disciplines that include the arts, public health and disability policy, Kovacs said.
As one of the current appointees, Torres-Gil said his federal positions have allowed him to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
As assistant secretary on aging in the Clinton administration, Torres-Gil directed a conference on aging that gave former President Clinton vital information that he used to convince Congress to preserve Medicare and Social Security.
Torres-Gil also had a chance to use his position in the Clinton administration to serve his community.
After the Northridge earthquake struck in 1994, he returned to Los Angeles to respond to the needs of senior citizens affected by the quake.
He helped seniors start the process of rebuilding their homes and brought funding from the capitol to help them.
Torres-Gil had a simple piece of advice for the two new appointees.
“Never forget your community, and always return your phone calls,” he said.
“These appointments are always temporary, and someday you will not be in a position of power or influence.”