U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 2474) with Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) to improve the health of underserved minority communities. The bill is supported by nearly two hundred organizations that work to overcome the health disparities that disproportionately affect minority groups.
"The Health Equity and Accountability Act makes improving health outcomes for minorities in this country a priority," said Senator Akaka. "My bill will make it easier for minority communities to access health care services by overcoming cultural and language barriers and increasing research on prevention and treatment of diseases that disproportionately affect minorities."
"The diverse nature of our nation's population requires that we adjust our healthcare system to accommodate for medical conditions, diseases, environmental realities, and mental health issues that frequently affect different minorities," said Senator Inouye. "What is good for the health of the many is not always the case for some underrepresented segments of our society. This bill will go a long way toward identifying, treating, and preventing health issues that disproportionately impact minorities."
Senator Akaka's introduction is timely because April is National Minority Health Month and May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
"When there are barriers to good health care it hurts us all, not only minorities. I introduced this bill to move our nation towards more effective ways to reduce health inequity," Senator Akaka said. "The Affordable Care Act has helped to improve access to health care for millions of Americans, but there is still a lot more to do to achieve health equity among all communities in the United States."
This Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2012 would:
Address issues in comprehensive data reporting that lead to a lack of information about the health status of minority groups;
Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare, including the training of a diverse health workforce to effectively serve minority populations;
Remove barriers to care in rural communities through the development of health empowerment zones and the expansion of coverage to previously marginalized groups;
Provide educational and preventive services to decrease teenage pregnancies and support the health of women and children;
Increase the availability of appropriate mental health services;
Focus research on diseases that disproportionately affect minority groups;
Establish the role of health information technology in reducing health disparities;
Call for accountability and transparency from federal agencies in addressing issues of minority health; and
Address social determinates and improve environmental issues that lead to poor health outcomes for minority individuals.