What if the federal government took action against the long-standing health disparities between groups of different race, ethnic group, immigration and citizenship status, English proficiency, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status? Sounds pretty awesome, right?!?
Well, we are closer than we have ever been thanks for the recent introduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act (H.R. 2954)!
The Health Equity and Accountability Act was introduced on September 15th 2011 by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-9th) with the support of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – and has 72 co-sponsors.
The Latina Institute is proud to note that its recommendations on the issues of affordable mental health services, culturally appropriate care and expanding support for community health services were adopted into the final draft of the bill.
The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) seeks to build upon the foundation set by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to address ever-present disparities in health.
We know that inequities in our health care system continue to contribute to worse health care outcomes for minority groups. For example, Latina women have the highest incidence of cervical cancer among all racial and ethnic groups, with nearly twice the rate of white women. Cervical cancer is highly treatable with early detection through regular pap smears, yet Latinas are the second largest group to die of the disease due to limited access to health insurance, cultural and linguistic barriers, immigration status, and lack of knowledge.
The bill is important for Latinas as it addresses many of the most daunting barriers to health care for our community.
Why should Latinas get behind this bill?
HEAA is an important step forward for Latinas and other minority groups as it calls for greater federal support for and understanding of these groups’ health care needs. Below is a chart indicating HEAA’s specific solutions to current challenges.
|Challenges to Health Care Equity||HEAA’s Solution|
|The health care needs of Latin and immigrant women are not well understood.||HEAA will support improved data collection and analysis of the health needs and challenges of communities of color and other minority groups.|
|Persons with limited English proficiency face barriers to care.||HEAA seeks to expand health care workforce diversity and improve culturally and linguistically appropriate care.|
|The challenges to achieving equity in health care are complex.||HEAA calls for investments in innovative technologies and tools to administer health care more effectively to underserved groups.|
|There is a lack of health care professionals serving minority and underserved communities.||HEAA calls for expanding training opportunities for health care professionals serving minority groups.|
|Latinas living in rural areas face great challenges accessing care.||HEAA calls for greater health services in rural areas and creates a Rural Community Health program.|
|Immigrants face unique barriers to care.||HEAA is inclusive of immigrant health needs and among other things, repeals the requirement to provide evidence of citizenship under the Medicaid program.|
How can I support this bill?
- Educate your family and friends about the bill.
- If your representative is currently co-sponsoring the bill, call or email them with a thank you. The list of co-sponsors can be found here.
- If your representative did not co-sponsor, call/email them asking for their support. You can find your Congressional Representative here.