News Release

Congressional Tri-Caucus Introduces Landmark Health Equity and Accountability Legislation

April 28, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and the Congressional Tri-Caucus – which represents over half of the Democratic Caucus and includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) – introduced a landmark bill to close health disparities in the United States, entitled the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020. This legislation is supported by more than 200 community and advocacy organizations in the United States.

“The coronavirus pandemic is exposing the deep inequities in health care--a reality my community has experienced for decades. We can all get the virus--but too many families in my community don’t have access to a doctor. The infection counts show, without a doubt, that Latino, African American and immigrant communities are suffering more from coronavirus than others. This wrong, people’s health outcomes should not be determined by their zip code. This is why I am proud to introduce the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), which will address the harmful inequality in our health care system. Now is the time to act,” said Congressman García.

“UnidosUS is proud to stand with Representative Jesús ‘Chuy’ García and the Congressional Tri-Caucus to introduce the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 (HEAA),” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS. “If the current public health and economic crises and their disproportionate harm on communities of color teach us anything, it is this: We can no longer look to the same old playbook to respond to a public health crisis or make future investments in our health system. It’s time to write a new book and HEAA provides the type of bold, visionary ideas that promote the highest level of health for all Americans, including the Latino community.”

“The coronavirus has not only exposed but exacerbated health inequity in American society. I hope this crisis is a wake-up call to address the underlying conditions that are disproportionately affecting communities of color. The Health Equity and Accountability Act is a smart next step to strengthen our health care system and reduce racial disparity,” said CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20). “I grew up with a grandmother who suffered from type 2 diabetes and thanks to Medicare she was able to receive the health care she needed. HEAA is part of the movement to achieve universal health care in America and ensure health equity for every person.”

“For too long, adequate healthcare has been denied to members of communities that sit at the margins. And the COVID-19 crisis is bringing that disparity to light. In California, data suggest that while Asian Americans make up 15% of California’s population, they make up 17% of the COVID-19-related deaths. For the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, these disparities have been even worse, with COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in several states that are several times higher than the general population.” said CAPAC Chairwoman Judy Chu (CA-27). “ That is why we need equality in our healthcare system, including high quality and disaggregated data, culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare, and closing the gaps in healthcare coverage and usage. That is exactly what the Health Equity and Accountability Act does by taking us one step closer to achieving health equity for all. I’m proud to join once again with my colleagues in the Tri-Caucus to ensure that Americans can have access to quality, affordable health care – no matter their race, ethnicity, gender identity, or language ability.”

“The Health Equity and Accountability Act comes at a time when our nation must take a serious look inward to address the inequalities of our health care system. The impact of COVID-19 on Black America has placed this issue right at the forefront. The legislative response must be holistic and targeted to meet the needs of our communities and that is what this Act aims to do. I commend my colleagues of the Tri-Caucus for coming together to introduce the Health Equity and Accountability Act and remaining committed to delivering impactful solutions for change in our healthcare system,” said Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

  • Examples of issues Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 addresses include:
  • Strengthening health data collection to inform policies that eradicate racial health disparities.
  • Improving health care access and quality for all, including undocumented children and families.
  • Enhancing language access and culturally competent care for limited English proficient (LEP) immigrants.
  • Expanding mental and behavioral services targeting low-income, communities of color.
  • Reducing racial health disparities, including infant and maternal mortality rates.
  • Increasing federal funding for health care services for people of color living with HIV/AIDs.
  • Addressing social determinants of health to mitigate the effects of systemic poverty and discrimination.

Background:

The Health Equity and Accountability Act is a visionary piece of legislation to reform our health system to ensure that historically marginalized communities and communities who face health disparities receive the health services they need to thrive. The provisions within this bill will close health disparities and improve health and wellbeing of communities across the United States.

The Health Equity and Accountability Act has been introduced in every Congress since 2007. This legislation reforms policies and expands federal health care resources for racial and ethnic minorities, as well as other underserved populations who face discrimination and barriers to care due to their immigration status, sex, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and English proficiency.

A full text of the bill can be found here.

A list of the supporting organizations can be found here.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit www.unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories. 

Contact:
Alex Sarbaria (CHC)
(202) 507-0273

Contact:
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli (Garcia)
(202) 225-8203