On April 26, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA, H.R. 7585), which aims to advance health equity and address health and health care disparities through systemic changes to create a health care system that is equitable for all communities. The legislation addresses the intersection of health inequities and race and ethnicity, immigration status, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, and socioeconomic status.
“The Health Equity and Accountability Act will reduce racial and ethnic health inequities, address the maternal mortality crisis, strengthen health data collection and 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 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.”
The HEAA builds upon previous versions of the bill and includes updated definitions and language. Notable changes to the bill include:
- Creating a Commission on Ensuring Data for Health Equity to increase transparency and the use of demographic data to reduce disparities.
- Expanding the integrated care delivery system to include home, community-based, and congregate care to increase access to care.
- Improving health and allied workforce diversity by enhancing Title VII and Title VIII workforce development programs, expanding nursing programs and medical school education, and increasing the Conrad 30 program.
- Supporting increasing Medicare GME to address physician workforce shortages and improve patient access.
- Increasing access to mental health services by increasing the mental health workforce, integrated care, and mental health service providers with diverse linguistic abilities and utilizing community-based models of mental health care, health navigators, and telehealth.
- Improving federal agencies’ guidelines to diversify clinical trials.
The Congressional Tri-Caucus (which includes the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus) has introduced the HEAA since 2003 [refer to Washington Highlights, May 1, 2020]. The AAMC continues to support the legislation.