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Tri-Caucus Minority Health Bill

Location: Washington, DC

TRI-CAUCUS MINORITY HEALTH BILL -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 28, 2005)


* Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, the Tri-Caucus commemorates and closes Minority Health Month by offering the ``The Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act of 2005''.

* I join my colleagues in calling for bipartisan support and immediate consideration of the Tri-Caucus minority health disparities bill which will provide long-needed resources to combat the growing racial and ethnic health disparities in minority communities across the country.

* The tri-caucus bill re-prioritizes and funds efforts for prevention, education and data-collection; all essentials to reduce the overall cost of treatment and reduce disproportionately high rates of emergency health services in minority communities.

* Equality in health service is still a distant and difficult goal. Until the United States makes health care a basic human and civil right we will never close the disparities gap.

* Mr. Speaker, I believe it is criminal that in the United States the color of your skin and the languages that you speak can make you more likely to die of HIV/AIDS, heart disease or diabetes, as a result of our broken and culturally insensitive health care system.

* The numbers are staggering: Cancer: African Americans are 23 percent more likely to die from all types of cancer than Whites. African American men die twice as often from prostate cancer than Whites.

* Cancer: Breast cancer is diagnosed 13 percent less frequently in African American women than White women; however African American women die more often.

* Heart Disease: African Americans suffer the most from the disease. Around 40 percent of African American men and women have some form of heart disease, compared to 30 percent of White men and 24 percent of White women. African Americans are also 29 percent more likely to die from the disease than Whites.

* Diabetes: African Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes as Whites. African Americans with diabetes are more likely to experience complications of diabetes.

* Diabetes: Diabetes related eye disease, is 40 to 50 percent more common in African Americans than Whites. Kidney failure is about 4 times more common in African Americans with diabetes than in Whites with diabetes. Amputations of lower extremities (legs and feet) are also more common in African Americans with diabetes.

* Diabetes: As of 2002, two million Hispanic adults, about 8.2 percent of the population, have diabetes. About one-third of Hispanics with diabetes are undiagnosed. Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely to have diabetes as Whites. And, in 2001 the death rate from diabetes in Hispanics was 40 percent higher than the death rate of Whites.

* I could go on and on, but I'll just end this list of statistics by giving you a quick overview of HIV/AIDS in our communities. HIV/AIDS has had a devastating impact on minorities in the United States.

* HIV/AIDS: Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for almost 70 percent of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV and AIDS in 2002. More than 90 percent of babies born with HIV belong to minority groups.

* HIV/AIDS: More than 54 percent (14,398) of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2002 were in African Americans. African Americans are ten times more likely to die of AIDS than Whites.

* HIV/AIDS: AIDS is the leading cause of death in African American women aged 25-34 and the third leading cause of death in African American men in the same age group. More than 64 percent of HIV positive infants are African American.

* HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is spreading at a rapid rate in the Hispanic community. Hispanics accounted for around 20 percent of AIDS cases in 2002, despite making up only 14 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than Whites. Hispanics were also almost three times more likely to die of AIDS than their White counterparts in 2001.

* The Congressional Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus and Asian Pacific Islander Caucuses have came together because we see the need to offer solutions for the inclusion and the prioritizing of minorities in the health care system which today is sorely inadequate.

* Our goal, like that of the American public, is the complete elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities.

* I believe that with this bill we have provided a good first step toward that goal.

* In this bill, we have diagnosed the major health care shortfalls and provided sound and culturally-conscious solutions.

* The goal of this bill is nothing short of the complete elimination of these racial and ethnic disparities. In this bill, we have assessed the foremost health care shortfalls of our current system, and provided sound and culturally conscious solutions.

* 1. We have called for an expansion of the health care safety net, which will increase access to quality health care coverage.

* 2. We state that health care be should be considered not only a human right but a civil right, and as such must be protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

* 3. We ask for the widespread, comprehensive, collection and dissemination of health data on minorities to become a top priority for the health care community.

* 4. In order to appropriately target the diseases that are plaguing minority peoples, we must first make sure that we have an accurate picture of the challenge we are facing. And we must use this information to make sure that everyone is aware of these statistics, so they know the risks.

* 5. We ask for a complete assault on HIV/AIDS and other diseases that are disproportionately killing the minority community.

* 6. By enacting this bill, we correct a major problem in America: ending minority health disparities and diversify health care workforce.

* Mr. Speaker, the issue here is that millions of Americans, half of whom are minorities, go undiagnosed and uncared for because they lack adequate health care.

* Instead of privatizing social security and cutting Medicaid, our President should help African Americans, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans live longer, healthier lives.

* The President should not rely on the shorter life expectancy of African Americans or other minorities--he should fix the root of the problem--fix our health care system.

* Mr. Speaker, it is our priority to stop the dangerous cycle of shorter life spans and poor quality, inaccessible health care for minorities in this country.

* We stand committed because we cannot stand for continued rates of prostate and breast cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure to take the lives of minority peoples around this country.

* If we are to ensure that we are all equal, then we cannot ignore the inequalities inherent in our current heath care system.

* And finally, we cannot stand in the halls of this Congress and allow a prescription drug bill, an HIV/AIDS bill, or any other health bill pass that doesn't have a focus on African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, or our Asian and Pacific Island communities.

* Today, we are united for all minorities across this country, and we will win the battle against ethnic and racial health disparities.

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