Mazie Hirono Intros Bill to Address Health Disparities Among Communities of Color
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced a bill Wednesday that she says is a roadmap to address health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, rural populations, and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) reforms policies and expands federal health care resources. Racial disparities in health care remain prevalent. Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, heart disease, and hepatitis continue to disproportionately affect African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian populations. And despite coverage gains made under the Affordable Care Act, Latinos and African Americans are still at a higher risk of being uninsured. There are many reasons for these disparities including higher uninsured rates, language and cultural barriers to care, social determinants, elevated poverty rates, and greater exposure to pollution -- these are just some of the factors that lock communities of color out of quality care. It’s also an economic issue. Between 2003 to 2006, health disparities and premature death amongst racial and ethnic minorities cost more than one trillion dollars. Hirono aims to address these issues. “Minority communities and other traditionally underserved populations have faced health care disparities for decades, and we have a long way to go to ensure that these communities have equal, affordable access to culturally competent health care services,” the Senator said. “HEAA lays out a bold blueprint to deliver on the idea that quality, affordable health care is truly a right for all and not a privilege reserved for some. I thank my Senate and House colleagues, and the hundreds of advocacy groups who support HEAA for their work to ensure that all Americans can access and afford the care that may save their lives.” A House version of the bill was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus’ Health Task Force Co-Chair, earlier this year. More here.