Press Release

August 4, 2020
Cardin, Scott Introduce Bill to Combat Health Disparities

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), members of the Finance subcommittee on Health Care, introduced the REACH Act. This legislation codifies the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) REACH program, which supports locally tailored and collaborative projects aimed at combating health disparities, with a particular emphasis on chronic disease prevention and response efforts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the public health and economic disparities in communities of color,” said Senator Cardin. “We must take action to address racial inequities in the U.S. health system to help these communities overcome barriers to accessing high quality health care. The REACH Act bolsters CDC’s current efforts to address health disparities by establishing sustainable funding to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.”

“The current pandemic has highlighted so many disparities that impact communities of color, including those in our healthcare system,” said Senator Tim Scott. “It’s important that our most vulnerable Americans are not being left behind. I am optimistic that we can reduce these inequities in our underserved neighborhoods, and I look forward to my colleagues supporting this legislation.”

If passed, the REACH Act would codify the REACH program by authorizing grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to support projects aimed at enhancing health outcomes, preventing and managing chronic conditions, and reducing disparities faced by racial and ethnic minority populations. The bill would condition funding eligibility on a proven track record of leveraging community-based coalitions, along with a locally tailored needs assessment and the ability to effectively and immediately deploy evidence-based and evidence-informed strategies to achieve meaningful results. With respect to racial and ethnic health disparities, grantees would also work to increase the workforce of health care and public health professionals from underrepresented populations, support locally-tailored strategies to prevent and manage chronic health conditions, and enhance capacity to prevent and respond to infectious disease outbreaks through outreach, education, and other relevant activities. The REACH Act includes authorization of $70 million for each of fiscal years 2021-25.

According to CDC, as a result of the REACH program, more than 2.9 million individuals have benefited from improved access to healthy foods and beverages; roughly 1.4 million people have experienced more opportunities to be physically active, and approximately 830,000 individuals have gained access to local chronic disease management programs.

To view the full text of the bill, CLICK HERE.