Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.) introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA, H.R. 6637), a measure that addresses health care disparities affecting communities of color, rural communities, and other underserved populations, on April 28.
The Congressional Tri-Caucus — which is composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) — are among the original co-sponsors of the bill.
The HEAA seeks to address disparities by promoting culturally appropriate care, data collection, and reporting.
In addition to the policies above, the HEAA incorporates AAMC priorities such as:
- Expanding and sustaining financial support for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce development programs.
- Establishing a “sense of Congress” that recognizes the physician shortage in the United States that can be mitigated by eliminating the cap on Medicare support for graduate medical education.
- Reauthorizing and expanding the Conrad-30 J-1 visa program [see Washington Highlights, May 24, 2019].
- Addressing the nonmedical factors that affect health outcomes and can result in unfair, avoidable health inequities by including the Social Determinants Accelerator Act [see Washington Highlights, March 13].
When the bill was introduced, CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said the coronavirus has not only exposed but also exacerbated health inequity in American society.
“I hope this crisis is a wake-up call to address the underlying conditions that are disproportionately affecting communities of color. The HEAA is a smart next step to strengthen our health care system and reduce racial disparity,” Rep. Castro said.