Washington, D.C. – As the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the glaring racial inequities of the United States health care system, the Congressional Tri-Caucus, led by Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García, have reintroduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 (HEAA) to address and eliminate health care disparities experienced by communities of color across the nation. The National Health Law Program is proud to have served on the HEAA Community Working Group and strongly urges Congress to take up this vital legislation.
HEAA establishes a series of programs and requirements primarily focusing on the health of communities of color but also addressing the needs of people with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals and other underserved communities. HEAA includes provisions to improve data collection, health literacy, health workforce diversity, and overall access to health care, including culturally and linguistically competent services. The 2020 iteration of HEAA also promises additional support for health care access for immigrant communities.
“Racial and ethnic inequities are built into our health care system. Communities of color have known this for decades, and advocates have fought to mitigate the worst of these inequities. But the COVID-19 outbreak has revealed the extent of these inequities to a troubled nation,” said NHeLP Executive Director Elizabeth G. Taylor. “As nightly newscasts report the surging death toll in black and brown communities, the need to enact the Health Equity and Accountability Act grows more pressing. Underserved communities continue to face substantial barriers to health care and remain unable to achieve equitable health outcomes – HEAA is a much-needed step in the right direction. I hope that as this nation emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, we dedicate ourselves to rebuilding a health care system that allows all individuals to achieve an optimal state of well-being where everyone has a fundamental right to their highest attainable standard of health.”
“HEAA represents an opportunity for us to turn our attention to breaking down barriers to care and to fighting inequities in the health care system. As a nation, we are desperate for a better way,” said Mara Youdelman, Managing Attorney of NHeLP’s D.C. office. “I am thrilled that HEAA is being introduced today and trust that it will energize all of us who believe health equity is worth the fight. Race and ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, income, class, disability, health, immigration status, nationality, religious beliefs, language proficiency, or geographic location — none of these factors should predict a person’s health outcomes.”
Learn more about the bill and encourage your representatives to co-sponsor the bill here.
Please contact the National Health Law Program Director of Communications Andy DiAntonio at [email protected] for further comment from Taylor or Youdelman on the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020.