Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011, a bill that complements the efforts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and focuses on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. The bill was formally introduced today by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair of CAPAC's Healthcare Taskforce, and included 68 original cosponsors.
"This legislation will serve a vital purpose in our nation's health care system, bringing health equity to all corners of our nation," said Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Healthcare Task Force of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. "Building on the historic provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 includes new and tools to ensure effective, prioritized action is taken to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities, which can help our nation save trillions of dollars in savings."
Specifically, this legislation improves and guides federal efforts in the following vital areas: data collection and reporting; culturally and linguistically appropriate health care; health workforce diversity; improvement of health outcomes for women, children and families; mental health; high impact minority diseases (hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer); health information technology; emboldened accountability and evaluation; creation of a new Office of Minority Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs; and, addressing social determinants of health.
"The Health Equity and Accountability Act is the next step forward in our efforts to eliminate the unique health disparities facing minority communities," said CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu. "This bill includes some of the top healthcare priorities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including provisions for more accurate and disaggregated data collection, culturally and linguistically appropriate health care, and measures to address diseases like Hepatitis B that disproportionately impact our community. To achieve this goal, we have brought together one of the broadest coalitions in recent years to build upon the successes of the Affordable Care Act and ensure that we have a plan to improve our communities' health outcomes moving forward. I commend Congresswoman Barbara Lee, CAPAC's Healthcare Taskforce Chair, for leading these efforts in the 112th Congress, and thank all of our partners in the Tri-Caucus for their dedication to this important cause."
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Health, said: "It is a privilege for me to work with such determined and committed Tri-Caucus leaders in Congress, and to be once again joining forces with them to promote the new Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 that was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee this past week. It is our hope that this new bill will serve as the vehicle to move us forward in the effort to eliminate all health inequities."
"While we worked very hard to ensure the inclusion of meaningful health equity and health disparity elimination provisions in the Affordable Care Act, we also realize that there is a great deal of work that remains," noted Congresswoman Donna Christensen, a physician and Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust. "The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 not only complements the health equity measures in the historic health care reform law, but builds upon and expands ongoing efforts and forthcoming initiatives to eliminate health disparities and ensure health equity for every man, woman and child in the United States."