Senators Introduce Bill to Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Health Care Disparities

Senators Introduce Bill to Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Health Care Disparities

Communities of Color and Other Underserved Communities Have Long Experienced Negative Health Outcomes Compared to Whites

RELEASE: Nov. 29, 2018      CONTACT: Jeremy Leaming, leaming@healthlaw.org

Washington –  Against a backdrop of increasing overt racial discrimination in the United States, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2018 (S.3660) to address and eliminate health care disparities experienced by communities of color and other underserved communities. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) joined by 67 cosponsors introduced the bill’s House counterpart (H.R. 5942) on behalf of the Congressional Tri-Caucus in May. The National Health Law Program serves on the HEAA Community Working Group, and calls on Congress to pass this legislation.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Hirono, Congresswoman Lee, and the Congressional Tri-Caucus on this bill. Massive 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. “At a time when our country is being pulled backwards with discriminatory and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, this bill offers both a vision for and concrete steps toward health equity. We are delighted to support this bill.”

Communities of color and other historically underserved groups have long faced substantial barriers to health care, including discrimination. These historic trends, combined with the rise of political white nationalism, means that millions of individuals and families in the U.S. 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 (ACA), are undermined by inadequate funding, staffing, stewardship, and accountability.

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act promises to address and reduce health care disparities by building upon the ACA’s success by providing additional tools across the health care system,” says Staff Attorney Candace Gibson. “HEAA’s strength comes from its multipronged approach. It seeks to remove existing barriers to health care, pioneer innovative health delivery methods, and increase funding for research looking at the health needs of marginalized 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.”

Please contact National Health Law Program Director of Communications Jeremy Leaming or Communications Associate Andy DiAntonio for further comment from Taylor or Gibson 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.

 

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