Black, Latinx, and Asian Pacific Leaders in Congress Push for Equity in Health Care
Washington – Against a backdrop of increasing racial inequality in the U.S., the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 (HEAA) to address and eliminate health care disparities experienced by communities of color and underserved communities. 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.
“Enormous health disparities fester in our country, affecting people who have systematically been denied health care because of race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity,” said National Health Law Program Executive Director Elizabeth G. Taylor. “These inequalities have, of course, always existed, but the silver lining is that the racist policies and rhetoric of the Trump administration have alerted many people to these egregious inequalities. I hope that growing public perception of this crisis will help provide the momentum needed to enact HEAA.”
“The Health Equity and Accountability Act promises to build upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s success by providing additional tools to address and reduce health care disparities. The strength of HEAA comes from its multifaceted approach,” notes Staff Attorney Candace Gibson. “It seeks to eliminate existing barriers to health care, promote investment in innovative health delivery methods, and increase funding for research concerning the health needs and outcomes of vulnerable communities. Importantly, HEAA provides funding and resources to improve reproductive and maternal health care for youth and women of color. The measure also supports culturally and linguistically competent services.”
With the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, communities of color continue to face substantial barriers to health care and remain unable to achieve equitable health outcomes. Efforts to improve health and the delivery of care, even as part of a national law, such as the Affordable Care Act, have been limited by inadequate funding, staffing, stewardship, and accountability.
“The 115th Congress spent all of 2017 trying to repeal the ACA. The tactic in 2018 seems to be neglect and to ignore the administration’s continued sabotage of our health care system,” said Managing Attorney of the D.C. office Mara Youdelman. “The time has come to refocus our attention on addressing inequalities in the health care system. People are desperate for better access to health care. Regardless of HEAA’s fate this year, the bill’s sponsors have provided a galvanizing way forward.”
Please contact National Health Law Program Director of Communications Jeremy Leaming for further comment from Taylor, Gibson, or Youdelman on the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018.
National Health Law Program, founded in 1969, advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access quality health care.