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Rep. Robin Kelly Introduces Health Equity and Accountability Act

This legislation would address social determinants of health, improve access for underserved communities, address maternal health and mental health crises, gun violence, and more. 

stressed teenager mgn, health equity

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA). HEAA is a comprehensive and strategic legislative roadmap that aims to eliminate racial and ethnic health inequities. This is the only legislation that directly addresses the intersection of health inequities with race and ethnicity, as well as immigration status, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language, and socio-economic status.

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act will reduce racial and ethnic health inequities, address the maternal mortality crisis, strengthen health data collection & research, expand access to mental health care, target gun violence, improve language access in health care, diversify our health care workforce, and so much more,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “I am proud to lead this legislation on behalf of the Congressional Tri-Caucus to improve healthcare access and services for every single American.”

Since 2003, HEAA has been introduced by the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). Rep. Kelly is leading the legislation this year in her capacity as CBC Health Braintrust Chair.

The bill focuses on 10 main topics: data collection and reporting; culturally and linguistically appropriate health and health care; health workforce diversity; improving health care access and quality; improving health outcomes for women, children, and families; mental health and substance use disorders; addressing high impact minority diseases; health information technology; accountability and evaluation; and addressing social determinants and improving environmental justice.

“As Co-Chair of the Health Task Force of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Health Task Force, I’m proud to join Rep. Kelly in the reintroduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “HEAA is a bold, comprehensive vision for addressing persistent ethnic and racial health disparities to improve health outcomes for communities of color. Health care inequities have always existed, but COVID-19 has laid bare just how deadly they can be. This is the moment to enact HEAA to systemically improve care to ensure that all Americans – no matter their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or language background – can stay healthy.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought the troubling persistent racial disparities in our healthcare system to light. Our policies are grossly out of step with science and the overwhelming consensus from the medical community,” said Dr. Gary A. Puckrein, president and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum. “Achieving health equity is critical for this country. The Health Equity and Accountability Act can provide the tools needed to ensure that healthcare disparities are eliminated as health inequities are prioritized.”

“The National Urban League is proud to work with and support Representative Robin Kelly and the Congressional Black Caucus in the introduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2022 (HEAA),” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “As our COVID-19 needs assessment report underscored, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the racial health equity gaps of this nation. This legislation addresses these gaps directly, including maternal mortality for Black women, mental health challenges for our youth, gun violence in our communities, and access to broadband internet and devices in our homes, and other social determinants of health in our society. HEAA would help us chart a path towards a new normal of health equity for all.”

HEAA is endorsed by more than 60 stakeholder groups representing a wide variety of health industry partners, patient advocates and diverse communities.

“We celebrate Rep. Kelly and the Congressional Tri-Caucus for reintroducing the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2022. Generations of Southeast Asian communities deserve to heal from unaddressed traumas with dignity. Too many of our SEAA families and elders are unable to access quality care because of inadequate coverage and a lack of culturally and linguistically competent care. The lack of adequate health data on our communities further erases these inequities and makes it more difficult to properly assess their health needs. HEAA reimagines a healthcare system that prioritizes health equity for all, and we call on lawmakers to advance this bill,” said Quyên Ðinh, Executive Director, SEARAC.

“People of color have faced persistent and detrimental health inequity for far too long. This is particularly true for the kidney community—as kidney failure disproportionately impacts people of color,” said LaVarne Burton, President and CEO of the American Kidney Fund (AKF). “At AKF, fighting health disparities is an integral part of our mission and we are proud to support this critical legislation to hold our country more accountable for equitable access to health care. The bill includes a vitally important section on kidney disease that would improve diversity in clinical trials, increase transplantation in communities of color and expand vital Medicare supplemental (Medigap) health insurance to patients in need.”

“Since the beginning stages of this legislation, the NAACP has been working closely with Congress to develop this bill which aims to eliminate racial health inequities that have impacted far too long the quality and quantity of life for many African Americans,” said Portia White, NAACP Vice President, Policy & Legislative Affairs. “The HEAA seeks to directly address the intersection of health inequities with race and other socioeconomic factors impacting individual and population health.”

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act is an important step to ensuring that our healthcare system works for all older adults, regardless of age, race, immigration status, primary language or other characteristic, and is free of inequities that disproportionately impact older adults of color,” said Denny Chan, Directing Attorney, Equity Advocacy, Justice in Aging.

“Passing the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) is critical for immigrant communities, which far too often face health disparities due to their immigration status, race, gender, and other combinations of health inequities, even as they disproportionally serve in roles that are deemed essential to getting us through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We are proud to support this legislation and are appreciative of the leadership of Rep. Kelly, and the Congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian & Pacific American Caucuses for setting a standard for what truly delivering on health equity and justice looks like.”

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2022 (HEAA) represents a significant opportunity to break down barriers to care and fight inequities in health care. As a nation, we must act to build a stronger and fairer health care system. As we’ve seen over the last few years, the stakes are too high for inaction,” said Mara Youdelman, Managing Attorney of NHeLP’s D.C. office. “The National Health Law Program is thrilled that the Congressional Tri-Caucus has once again introduced HEAA and we hope that it will energize people across the country to continue to fight for policies and laws that foster health equity and fight racism. Race and ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, income, disability, health, immigration status, nationality, religious beliefs, language proficiency, or geographic location — none of these factors should predict a person’s health outcomes.”

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act takes a comprehensive and bold approach to reducing and eliminating health and health care disparities for communities of color, rural populations, and medically underserved communities,” said Juliet K. Choi, president & CEO, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF). “This bill will help address the ongoing health challenges faced by Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities by improving federal data collection and reporting efforts, promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate care, and fostering greater diversity in the health workforce. APIAHF is proud to be a leading partner with Congresswoman Robin Kelly and the Congressional Tri-Caucus in their leadership and commitment to advancing health equity, and we will continue to help ensure its advancement in Congress.”

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act is a critical piece of legislation that serves as a roadmap for how we can strengthen work to advance health equity across the federal government. From addressing social determinants of health to supporting data equity and improved access to care, this legislation is a call for Congress to take action on health equity,” said J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, President & CEO of Trust for America’s Health.

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) puts racial equity at the forefront as the most important consideration in our work to reform our nation’s health care system. The bill’s maternal health care improvements will produce widespread change in a health care system that has often failed people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, and immigrants. In addition, the call for an end to the discriminatory and anti-reproductive health Hyde Amendment is an important part of the fight to protect abortion rights. The National Partnership is proud to endorse the Act and urge its swift adoption,” said Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, Vice President for Health Justice, National Partnership for Women & Families.

“Now is the time for meaningful action to reduce the cancer burden across all communities. This legislation aims to address many of these gaps through a variety of measures, starting with prevention and extending across the entire continuum of care, including removing financial barriers for patients to improve their access to cancer clinical trials,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network President, Lisa Lacasse.

“The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is thrilled to endorse the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA). Our health systems have a long and unfortunate history of perpetuating health inequities and undermining the wellness of communities that have been marginalized for generations. This visionary, comprehensive legislation moves us toward a shared vision of health justice,” said Nia West-Bey, PhD Director, Youth Policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

“We applaud Congresswoman Kelly’s leadership and commitment to increasing access to quality, comprehensive care for underserved populations nationwide,” said Amanda Pears Kelly, CEO of Advocates for Community Health. “We are particularly encouraged by the inclusion of language ACH has been strongly advocating for regarding the development of a Pay for Equity strategy to incentivize interventions and documented health equity outcomes. We very much support this work which can ensure equity is at the core of all health care payment models by 2025. Federally qualified health centers across the country provide care to nearly 29 million patients each year and as health equity hubs, are uniquely positioned to help build healthier communities. We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Kelly and leaders in Congress to design a future where health equity is a reality for all Americans.”

“For too long, members of the Middle Eastern and North African, or MENA, community have been underserved by the Federal statistical system, leading to the persistence of health disparities on racial and ethnic lines. At the same time, the issue of MENA exclusion from Federal policy and programs is an underemphasized element of health inequities,” Rima Meroueh, Director of National Network for Arab American Communities. “Like many underserved populations, MENA communities have been subject to systemic exclusion from the established pathways for community support. This exclusion is particularly significant within the Public Health Service, where Congress has authorized a variety of programs to address minority health concerns. By providing for equitable inclusion of ‘Middle Easterners and North Africans’ within minority-serving programs, the Health Equity and MENA Community Inclusion Act of 2022 will ensure that these programs can reach the full scope of the minority health landscape. NNAAC and the communities we serve applaud Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Debbie Dingell, Robin Kelly, and Anna Eshoo for their leadership on issues of health equity and MENA inclusion.”