WASHINGTON, D.C. – The office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced Tuesday that he has cosponsored the Health Equity and Accountability Act.
The HEAA addresses other investments Congress should make to enhance the health and well-being of underserved communities, address healthcare inconsistencies and ensure access to high-quality and affordable healthcare for all, the release said.
“Our nation’s health care systems are rooted with deep inequities, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Senator Kaine. “We must do more to ensure all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or zip code, have access to quality, affordable health care. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to address health disparities and expand health care access.”
According to the release, the HEAA would:
- Strengthen data collection for underrepresented populations to effectively evaluate health disparities and inform health equity policies;
- Ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare to reduce disparities in health;
- Improve health workforce diversity to ensure providers are representative of the patients that they serve;
- Address systemic barriers to quality care by expanding coverage, improving access to healthcare facilities, innovating in care delivery, and creating health empowerment zones to allow communities to receive federal funding;
- Address poor health outcomes for underserved women, children, and families through expanded access and coverage and increased resources and tools;
- Improve the availability, accessibility, and quality of mental health services through increased funding and development to combat inequities;
- Expand research, screening, treatments, and coverage for diseases that disproportionately impact minority communities;
- Promote, strengthen, and invest in the Health IT infrastructure to multiply its impact on racial and ethnic minority communities;
- Affirm the federal government’s responsibility to prevent healthcare services discrimination and strengthen accountability through transparency and enforcement actions;
- Define social determinants of health, or conditions that influence health outcomes, and introduce assessments and programs to remediate the factors influencing the unequal distribution of health inequities.
The release stated that more than 300 racial and health equity organizations, researchers, provider groups and community-based organizations have contributed to the creation and development of the HEAA.
Other cosponsors of the HEAA are Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), according to the release.
You can read the full text of the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2022 here.