Everyone in the United States should be able to live their healthiest life. If we are serious about creating and sustaining a just society that offers equal opportunity for all, we must be serious about fostering every single person’s health. Unfortunately, today, our health care system is failing at this.
Our system is broken when it comes to protecting and promoting the health and well-being of people of color. The evidence is in the heartbreaking fact that Black women are 3-4 times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. It is in the fact that Black infant mortality rates are more than double white infant mortality rates. It is in the fact that Latinas and American Indian Alaska Native women are twice as likely to be uninsured than white women. I could keep going – ample statistics demonstrate the many ways our health care system is failing to meet the health and health care needs of people of color – especially women.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: good policy. Congress can – and must – take action to address punishing health disparities. The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), introduced today by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), would do just that.
Introduced every year since 2007, HEAA is a comprehensive bill that includes provisions to foster health equity, from improved data collection and reporting to support for mental health to workforce development. HEAA provides the resources, funding, policy changes and infrastructure necessary to improve health care access and quality for communities of color and other underserved populations.
Supporting this bill should be a no-brainer. Every member of Congress should be anxious to pass legislation that will improve the health of millions of people. The National Partnership is proud to support HEAA and its holistic approach to eliminating racial and ethnic health and health care disparities. We commend Senator Hirono, Representative Lee and members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus for continuing to push for this important legislation, and look forward to the day when we can celebrate HEAA’s passage and ultimately, its positive impact.