In recent years, several major laws affecting the practice of public health were enacted, aimed to minimize health disparities by lowering costs and improving the accessibility of health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in particular showed that major changes were needed to improve the quality and affordability of health care and reminded us of the need to never stop improving the systems we currently have in place. In 2016, the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) was introduced, aimed at further advancing the improvements brought by ACA.
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HEAA, the purpose of HEAA, the sponsor of HEAA
The purpose of HEAA is to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities by improving the health of all individuals and remove the barriers that prevent minorities from improving their health (2016 Health Equity and Accountability Act, p. 1). The authors of HEAA argue that racial and ethnic minorities’ population, which is predicted to grow over the next decades, has the poorest health. HEAA blames the lack of financial resources as well as inadequate staffing, stewardship, and accountability resources for the current situation, and calls for targeted investments to reduce the effect the social determinants have on the health of the minority communities. The bill’s main sponsor is Congresswoman Robin Kelly, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust (Congressional Tri-Caucus Introduces 2016 Health Equity and Accountability Act, 2016, para. 1).
The reasons for the introduction of HEAA
The fact that racial and ethnic health inequalities exist was well known before and was supported by the number of studies. A consistent framework was created to evaluate these inequalities, and multiple studies suggest that ethnic minorities face a higher risk of tuberculosis and drug-induced death, as well as other diseases (Keppel, 2006, p. 97).
Due to the “welfare reform law”, at least some of the minorities lost their access to basic health programs, and despite being employed, cannot afford private insurance, which puts their well-being at risk (Ko Chin, 2014). Minorities are expected to comprise 47 percent of the US population by 2050 which highlights the need to deliver high-quality health care services to diverse populations (Brach & Fraserirector, 2000, p. 181). All of the facts cited above support the reasoning behind the introduction of HEAA.
The impact of HEAA
The actions proposed by HEAA include strategies to minimize mental and behavioral health inequalities, focusing on mechanisms that address the diseases that specifically affect minorities. HEAA proposes using cultural competency techniques such as improving language access services and diversifying the workforce. There is substantial evidence that proves that culturally and linguistically appropriate care is effective (Brach & Fraserirector, 2000, p. 181).
Therefore, if HEAA is enacted, it will provide national standards and healthcare investments that will improve the ability of health professionals to deliver higher-quality services to minorities, reducing health disparities and improving the overall health of the population. In the long run, it is expected that HEAA will eliminate the inequalities in health status and life expectancy for all consumers of healthcare.
The introduction of ACA was a step forward for public health care, but HEAA proves that there is more to be done to reduce health disparities in the US. The implementation of HEAA will affect the overall health of the US population and improve the potency of the US economy. This fact, in turn, means that more resources will be available to further improve the health of the population.
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2016 Health Equity and Accountability Act. (2016). Web.
Congressional Tri-Caucus Introduces 2016 Health Equity and Accountability Act. (2016). Web.
Fraserirector, I. & Brach, C. (2000). Can Cultural Competency Reduce Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities? Medical Care Research and Review, 57(1), 181-217. Web.
Keppel, K. (2007). Ten Largest Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the United States based on Healthy People 2010 Objectives. American Journal of Epidemiology, 166(1), 97-103. Web.
Ko Chin, K. (2012). A Movement for National Minority Health Month. Web.