Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease Endorses and Applauds U.S. House Introduction of the Health Equity Accountability Act of 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease (HECCD) officially endorsed the Health Equity Accountability Act of 2022 (HEAA) — landmark healthcare legislation introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives, aimed at eliminating racial and ethnic health inequities by eliminating barriers to coverage, expanding access to affordable health care, and targeting investments that strengthen the health care system so that it works for all. In a letter to congressional leaders (found below), the coalition said the “bill provides an overall blueprint for progress towards a more equitable health care system.”
The coalition praises three important provisions in the legislation, including: Expanding health care coverage by removing citizenship barriers to public health care programs; Focusing on solutions for multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, lung disease, HIV, sickle cell disease and obesity, and; Increasing the number of health care professionals from communities of color, who bring with them culturally and linguistically appropriate health services.
“We applaud Tri-Caucus leaders for introducing the Health Equity Accountability Act of 2022,” said the coalition’s co-chairs Tammy Boyd, Dr. Elena Rios, and Dr. Gary A. Puckrein. “HEAA represents a meaningful commitment from our leaders on Capitol Hill to address the systemic issues perpetuating negative health outcomes for people of color across the country. For example, the comprehensive bill will target social determinants of health that continuously put communities of color at disproportionately high risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Additionally, the bill tackles critical issues that lead to poor care of chronic diseases in our community, such as access to insurance, a lack of diverse providers and barriers to important treatments. The enactment of this bill would be a historic step forward for marginalized Americans. HECCD is proud to endorse HEAA and its commitment to prioritizing action on health equity at the national level.”
BACKGROUND: The Health Equity Accountability Act of 2022
The Health Equity Accountability Act of 2022 (HEAA) 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. 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). The CBC is leading the introduction of HEAA for the 117th Congress and Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust, is the lead sponsor.
HEAA builds on the gains made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and lays out a vision of additional investments Congress should make to enhance the health and well-being of systemically marginalized and underserved communities, address health inequities and ensure access to high quality and affordable health care for all. Our coalition is particularly appreciative of several provisions that we believe could improve chronic disease outcomes for people of color, including:
- Supporting diversity and cultural competence among healthcare workers with grants to HBCUs and other MSIs, among other federal investments.
- Improving health care access and quality for all, including low-income communities and undocumented children and families.
- Enhancing language access and culturally-informed care for limited English proficient (LEP) immigrants, and other communities of color.
- Addressing social determinants of health to mitigate the effects of systemic racism, poverty, and discrimination.
- Working towards solutions for multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, lung disease, HIV, sickle cell disease and obesity.
The legislation, which was introduced today by Congresswoman Kelly and her colleagues in the Tri-Caucus, is supported by over 300 racial and health equity organizations, researchers, provider groups, and community-based organizations — all of whom have contributed to the development of HEAA since its inception. Additionally, over 150 Members of Congress have co-sponsored HEAA over the past decade.
Coalition Endorsement of HEAA
Below is the letter that was sent to congressional leadership today endorsing the Health Equity Accountability Act of 2022 from the Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease.
April 26, 2022
Dear Congresswoman Kelly,
The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Diseases (HECCD) writes to formally endorse the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA). HECCD was recently formed to ensure that community experts, policy makers, providers, and other stakeholders work together to eliminate barriers to healthcare for communities of color, especially as related to access to care and treatment for obesity and other chronic diseases. The following organizations are currently members:
- National Black Leadership Commission on Health (NBLCH)
- Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC)
- Council on Black Health (CBH)
- League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
- Choose Healthy Life (CHL)
- Movement is Life
- National Action Network (NAN)
- Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI)
- National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF)
- National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA)
HECCD would like to lift up three parts of the bill that are particularly important to our mission of improving access and treatment of chronic disease in communities of color.
Our coalition believes that the HEAA is an important bill, and we are gratified by the tremendous engagement of so many Members of Congress on this topic. We believe this bill provides an overall blueprint for progress towards a more equitable health care system.
First, the provisions found in Title II & III which are aimed at increasing the number of health care professionals that come from communities of color and who bring with them culturally and linguistically appropriate health services is laudatory. We know one barrier to appropriate chronic disease care is patient-provider trust, and we believe culturally and linguistically adept providers are key to building that trust.
Next, we applaud the provisions in Title IV that expand health care coverage by removing citizenship barriers to public health care programs. Those without health insurance in this country are consigned to charity care in which long wait times and patchy access are common and can be deadly.
Finally, we praise HEAA’s aim to work on solutions for multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, lung disease, HIV, sickle cell disease and obesity. Many of these chronic diseases disproportionately impact communities of color, not because of biological reasons, but due to lack of access to care, incomplete coverage for treatments, and numerous societal factors. Because of this, HECCD’s first year initiative will focus primarily on obesity, which sadly increases one’s risk of developing more than 200 chronic diseases.
Thank you for your consideration of our views, and we look forward to working with you to turn this groundbreaking bill into law.
Dr. Elena Rios
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Congressman Frank Pallone
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy
Congressman Richard Neal
Congressman Kevin Brady
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris
Members of the House of Representatives
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The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease (HECCD) believes that all people deserve the best possible health care. Continuing to allow outdated coverage policies to restrict access for communities dependent on public programs is counter to the principles of health equity. The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease’s mission is to ensure that community experts, policy makers, providers, and other stakeholders work together to eliminate barriers to healthcare for communities of color, especially as related to access to care and treatment for obesity and other chronic diseases. Learn more at www.HealthEquityAction.org.