Health Equity

Overview of issues

Members of SGI have a charism and lengthy history in advocating for the access and affordability of healthcare in the U.S. Further, universal to all faith tradition embraces is the call to safeguard our personal health and the health of others as a moral obligation. It is an obligation that can be traced back to the mandates of our sacred scriptures, from the Quran, the Torah, and the New Testament. SGI’s voice in the discourse on domestic health care begins with this moral mandate. Adequate health care and the right to security during sickness is guaranteed under Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights; however these rights are regularly violated and, for those in our nation least able to afford it, access to affordable health care often remains out of reach. As people of faith, we are called to address the injustices of the current health care system; as investors and professionals working in the field, we are called to address its inefficiencies.

Escalation of pharmaceutical pricing has led increases in overall healthcare costs, significantly exceeding the cost of living and consumer price index. Bloomberg/SSR Health analysis shows that the U.S. outpaces the world in the cost of branded medications in many cases by a factor of two. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found one in four people in the U.S. report difficulty affording their prescription medicines and 43% of people in fair or poor health did not fill a prescription, or said they cut pills in half or skipped doses because of cost. According to a Kaiser study, 74% of Americans said big pharma is too concerned about making money and not concerned enough about helping people.

SGI’s engagement

SGI has had a particular interest in the access and affordability of healthcare, pharmaceutical pricing, youth smoking, and e-cigarettes.

SGI has been engaging the tobacco industry for decades advocating for consumers as well as farm workers. Our members were instrumental in forming the Farm Labor Practices Group, a multi-stakeholder collaboration which brings together shareholders, companies, farmers and farm workers, unions, NGOs, and federal and local government representatives in an effort to ensure basic human rights for farm workers, the majority of whom are undocumented. They have also engaged film production companies on smoking in movies based on the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report conclusion that exposure to onscreen smoking in movies causes young people to start smoking. Finally, SGI have asked tobacco companies to answer the concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health experts about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes.

Recent efforts by ICCR members to challenge the long term sustainability of pharmaceutical pricing strategies has attracted media attention. Companies omitted shareholder resolutions from their proxy statements in an effort to diffuse attention.

SGI shareholder resolutions