BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), as part of his ongoing commitment to eliminating race-related health disparities, has introduced legislation that would inform how Congress could address social, economic, and environmental factors that have a significant and/or direct influence on health care outcomes. The Assimilating Health and Equity Assessments into Decision-making (AHEAD) Act (S. 4919) is cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). The bill would require a scientific study analyzing how Congress might utilize Health Impact Assessments (HIAs), or similar studies known as Health In All Policies (HIAP) reports, at the federal level. The results would provide greater detail on the health implications of non-health legislative proposals, particularly on vulnerable populations or communities of color.
“For years, we have known that factors including economic status, housing, and environmental factors like pollution or lead exposure, can be detrimental one’s to health in the short- and long-term. In Maryland, studies have shown that what zip code you live in can have a profound impact on how long you can expect to live,” said Senator Cardin. “State and local governments have been using HIAs to assess policy proposals for years. It’s time Congress had similar tools to create more equitable initiatives that consider the social determinants of health related to a policy initiative.”
The Assimilating Health and Equity Assessments into Decision-making (AHEAD) Act (S. 4919) has been endorsed by the American Public Health Association, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Health Solutions Research, Friends of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Maryland Hospital Association, National Alliance against Disparities in Patient Health (NADPH), National Council of Urban Indian Health, National Hispanic Medical Association, Population Health Alliance, and the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity.