Legislation Would Direct Critical Resources to Address Persistent Health Disparities
Washington, DC – Yesterday, Senator Akaka (D-HI) introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 2474) to address health disparities facing communities of color. Together with the House version (H.R. 2954), introduced last year by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), the proposed legislation builds upon the reforms included in the Patient Protection and 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.
“The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) would provide much need resources to address the devastating impact HIV/AIDS has had on minorities,” said National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey. “In 2009, people of color accounted for more than70 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. That year, nine out of ten of babies born with HIV belonged to minority groups. 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.”
The HEAA includes several provisions to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS, including its STOP AIDS in Prison initiative, which would require the Bureau of Prisons to develop a comprehensive plan within one year to provide HIV testing, treatment, and prevention programming for inmates within the correctional system. Further, the bill calls on the Institute of Medicine to compile a report detailing all aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African-Americans and develop specific implementation recommendations to address the epidemic’s impact, specifically focusing on collaboration with Black clergy.
“This important legislation would encourage research on diseases and conditions that disproportionately impact minority individuals, while working to improve access to effective care for minority communities,” added Lindsey. “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 Senators Akaka and Inouye (D-HI)for their leadership and urges the entire Senate to support this critical bill, which would save thousands of lives each year and significantly reduce health care costs across the board.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext.333