Legislation Takes Aim at Persistent Health Disparities Facing Communities of Color and LGBT Americans
Washington, DC – The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) applauds Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), along with the Congressional Tri-Caucus — comprised of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus — for their introduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2014 today to address the wide array of persistent health disparities that continue to devastate communities of color. The proposed legislation, builds upon the reforms included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand targeted care in diverse communities across the U.S. and provide affordable access to high-quality health care regardless of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, physical, and geographic circumstances.
“Introduced on the 49th anniversary of Medicaid, HEAA would provide much needed resources to address the devastating and persistent impact health disparities have on minority communities, including HIV,” said NMAC Director of Outreach and Public Affairs Kyle Murphy. “People of color account for more than 70 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S., with the most heavily impacted populations being Black and Latino gay men. In 2009, nine out of ten of babies born with HIV belonged to minority groups. And according to the Office of Minority Health, Latinos are three times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than Whites. Similarly, Native Americans are 1.4 times more likely and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are 2.4 times more likely to receive an AIDS diagnosis than their White counterparts.”
HEAA of 2014 was introduced today with the broad support of the Congressional Tri-Caucus and approximately 350 national, state, and local organizations committed to health equity. It would address disparities by:
- Enhancing culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare and health workforce diversity;
- Increasing access to comprehensive sexuality education and emergency contraception for communities of color;
- Removing harmful and counterproductive barriers to affordable health coverage and care for immigrant women and families;
- Reducing unintended pregnancies for disproportionately impacted youth of color, including rural, LGBTQ, immigrant, and youth in the juvenile justice system;
- Bolstering data collection efforts and ensuring the collection of data regarding sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Providing a legislative agenda to address social determinants of health and advance environmental justice.
“This important legislation would encourage research on diseases and conditions that disproportionately impact racial/ethnic and sexual minorities, while working to improve access to effective care for these communities,” added Murphy. “The bill improves surveillance efforts to make it easier to identify existing disparities through comprehensive data collection, while working to ensure workforce diversity, target diseases that disproportionately affect minorities, and make culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services available to all. NMAC applauds Congresswomen Roybal-Allard, Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Donna Christiansen (VI), along with the entire Congressional Tri-Caucus for their leadership on this front and urges House Leadership and their colleagues to support this critical bill, which would save thousands of lives each year and significantly reduce health care costs across the board.”