Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) announced plans on July 15 to introduce the AAMC-supported COVID-19 Bias and Anti-Racism Training Act.
The bill would authorize $100 million in each of FY 2020 and FY 2021 for grants to health care entities and health professions education programs to establish or improve evidence-based, community-informed bias and anti-racism training programs.
“People of color are being infected and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate and astounding rates,” Sen. Harris said in a statement announcing the bill. “This is, in part, due to persistent bias in our health care system. We must take action to address this issue, especially as our country continues to face an unprecedented health crisis.”
In a July 13 letter endorsing the legislation, AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, echoed the senator’s concerns, saying, “As the COVID-19 pandemic tragically has illustrated, our nation’s existing structures, systems, and policies lead to preventable racial health inequities.”
“While the ability of any single educational intervention on its own to overcome pervasive societal and system challenges is limited,” she continued, “we believe that support for targeted implicit bias training would represent an important step in raising awareness among health professionals of conscious and unconscious discrimination in health care delivery, particularly if it includes an opportunity for educators to use a portion of the grant awards to evaluate which strategies are most effective in generating meaningful behavior change and improved patient health care outcomes.”
Twelve Democratic senators and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are joining Sen. Harris as original cosponsors of the bill.