October 07, 2020

Kaine, Colleagues Announce Legislation to Create A More Equitable Health Care System

The Health Equity and Accountability Act will address health disparities in Virginia and nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mazie Hirono announced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), sweeping legislation that would address health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities as well as women, the LGBTQ+ community, rural populations, and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities across the United States.

“Whether someone lives or dies should never depend on factors like race, income, gender, or LGBTQ status. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to underscore the deep inequities in our health care system, I’m proud to cosponsor this bill to build a healthier, more equitable future,” Senator Kaine said. 

The HEAA will:

  • Expand access to health care, including for immigrant and rural communities.
  • Improve care for underserved communities through enhanced language access services, provider training on cultural competency, and investments in diversifying the health workforce.
  • Dismantle barriers to care and fund programs to support mental, infant, maternal, sexual, and reproductive health for marginalized and underserved individuals and communities.
  • Increase federal resources to address diseases that disproportionately affect minority communities, and engage the entire federal government in building and funding strategies to address social determinants of health.

Senator Kaine has long focused his efforts on addressing disparities in the health care system. Earlier this year, he introduced the Expanding Medical Education Act which would provide grants to colleges and universities to establish or expand medical schools in underserved areas or at minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to diversify the physician pipeline. Kaine also introduced the Mothers and Newborns Success Actlegislation to help reduce the egregious racial inequities in maternal and infant mortality.

The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, Tammy Duckworth, Richard Blumenthal, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Ben Cardin.

A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representative Jesús “Chuy” García earlier this year, with support from the Congressional Tri-Caucus.

HEAA is endorsed by nearly 200 organizations, including UnidosUS, Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), Families USA, Community Catalyst, National Health Law Program (NHeLP), National Urban League, and AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families. The full list of endorsing organizations can be found here. Bill text can be found here.

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