Rep. Barbara Lee introduces new legislation to improve outcomes for people of color.
Health disparities in the United States are not merely a problem which is overexaggerated by liberals — it's a serious, well-documented crisis, especially for African-Americans. And these disparities play out in many different ways: Not having healthy and nutritious foods available in urban neighborhoods; not having access to health care or having health insurance; disproportionately suffering from a range of chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease and obesity; and having shorter life spans than our white counterparts.
The main question is what can be done to lesson these disparities in our community? Better yet, what can the government do to make that a reality?
Well, a new piece of legislation drafted by U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D–Calif.) may be a step in the right direction.
Last week, she introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011, a bill that seeks to eliminate racial health disparities and works in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act. The bill intends to improve the following: data collection and reporting; culturally appropriate health care; health workforce diversity; health outcomes for women, children and families; mental health; and outcomes for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes.
The bill included 68 original co-sponsors, including members from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and people living with HIV/AIDS.
In a press release, Lee stated, "This legislation will serve a vital purpose in our nation’s health care system, bringing health equity to all corners of our nation. Building on the historic provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 includes new and tools to ensure effective, prioritized action is taken to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities, which can help our nation save trillions of dollars in savings.”
Lee also told the People's World that the bill is about closing the gaps. "We want to target resources to communities striving to overcome social determinants like poverty, inadequate housing, racism and institutional biases."
Hopefully, this must-needed bill will get passed.
To learn more about health disparities, please visit the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities' website.
(Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)