Rep. García, Tri-Caucus Urge Congressional Leadership to Support Health Equity Measures in Upcoming Relief Package

July 31, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC. - Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and the Congressional Tri-Caucus Chairs – which includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) – urged Congressional leadership to include several provisions of H.R. 6637, Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 (HEAA) in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package.

“This public health crisis has demonstrated that COVID-19 does not discriminate, and yet, communities of color continue dying at higher rates. In Chicago, one’s zip code determines exposure, access to care, and the chances to live or die,” said Congressman García. “Failure to include critical provisions from the Health Equity and Accountability Act will be a death sentence for thousands. Better data collection, access to safety net programs for immigrants, equitable federal resources for those in the U.S. territories, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services will save lives. If we are serious about addressing this unprecedented public health emergency, we must urgently bridge health outcome gaps for people of color and ensure that our communities have access to the affordable, quality health care they need and deserve.”

“COVID-19 has not only exposed but exacerbated inequities in American society, particularly health outcomes. Latinos are three times as likely to get sick, four times as likely to be hospitalized, and twice as likely to die from the coronavirus,” said CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20). This disparity is due to inequality, from the lack of access to quality health care, to underlying chronic health conditions, to cultural and language barriers. This coronavirus crisis is a wakeup call for Congress to take action. I’m proud that Congressman Chuy García, along with the Tri-Caucus, is pushing the Health Equity Accountability Act to address long standing health and social inequalities in communities of color.”

“Health care disparities in our country have been a long-standing issue and concern for the Congressional Black Caucus. The spread of the coronavirus has compounded these issues, leaving Black people and communities of color even more vulnerable. The Health Equity and Accountability Act comes at a time when our nation must be proactive in addressing the inequalities of our health care system. The legislative response must be holistic and targeted to meet the needs of our communities and that is what this Act aims to do,” said Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the massive inequities in our health care system. For reasons ranging from a lack of access to quality health care to linguistic and cultural barriers to accessing care, communities of color are suffering in numbers far greater than their percentage of the population. That is why if we are to ensure all Americans can get through this crisis, Congress must address health disparities in the next COVID-19 relief bill,” said CAPAC Chairwoman Judy Chu (CA-27). For over a decade, the Tri-Caucus has put forth the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) to address long standing health inequities that communities of color face, and it is critical that we integrate these provisions into our response to this pandemic. These provisions will help by targeting the longstanding inequities in our health care system. It will also focus on important priorities for the AAPI community, such as the need for disaggregated racial and ethnic data, as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate health care.”

Among the provisions requested to be included are:

  • Remove citizenship and immigration barriers to access affordable health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Sec. 402)
  • Ensure Medicaid parity for U.S. territories (Sec. 404)
  • Amendment to the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to promote data collection, analysis, and reporting of demographic data among federally supported health programs (Sec. 101)
  • Ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate services in health care (Sec. 203, 204, 206, 207, 209, 210, 605)
  • Direct the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop and implement an outreach and education strategy to promote behavioral and mental health and reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions and substance abuse among minority populations (Sec. 607)

A copy of the letter can be found here

Rep. García introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act with the Tri-Caucus in April.