Care Subcommittee, issued the following statement commemorating April as National Minority Health Month.
“America is made stronger when each and every one of us is able to reach their highest potential. Part of what the federal government can and has done to help Americans give back to this great country is ensure that everyone has access to quality and affordable health care. Unfortunately, in the land where ‘all men are created equal’, one’s race and ethnic background has too often been an impediment to receiving lifesaving medical diagnosis and treatment. In Baltimore, the city in which I was born, living in an African-American neighborhood instead of a white neighborhood, separated by only a few miles away can impact life expectancy by as much as 30 years.
“This is unacceptable. During my time in Congress I have worked with whomever was willing to help shrink this startling and deadly disparity. I fought hard to make sure the Affordable Care Act protected all Americans, especially those whose unique health care needs had previously not been prioritized as highly as it should have been. From preventive screenings and ending the penalization of individuals with preexisting conditions, to amply funded community health centers and a myriad of other provisions, the Affordable Care Act is making headway in shrinking the preventable health disparities that exist in this, the richest state, in the richest nation on Earth. As a Senator with a long-standing record of working to promote health equity, including my legislation establishing Offices of Minority Health throughout HHS and elevating NIH’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to an Institute, I am proud of the work Congress has done in recent years, but I am form from satisfied.
“Currently, over 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes. However, both American-Indians and Alaska Natives as well as African-Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed and are twice as likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans are also 2.7 times as likely to face diabetes related end-stage renal disease as non-Hispanic whites and are more likely to suffer complications like lower extremity amputations. Obesity, which contributes to many diabetes diagnoses, as well as related heart conditions, is also more prevalent in minority communities. And, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2012, African-American and American Indian/Alaskan Native adults were 20 and 70 percent more likely, respectively, to have asthma versus non-Hispanic whites. Puerto-Ricans face even higher rates of asthma, even within the larger Latino community.
“This Minority Health Month and throughout the year, I am committed to shrinking the health disparities that exists in all minority communities. I will continue to fight for the resources to allow the National Institutes of Health to do the important work they do on behalf of minority populations that others cannot. As a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will remain steadfast in my advocacy for clean air and clean water, things that we know contribute to overall health in all Americans. On the Finance Committee I will ensure that doctors and individuals have the security they need to provide and seek quality care. I look forward to working with all of my Congressional colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to improve minority health in America. Minority health is not just a minority issue. If any segment of our population is not given the resources to reach its full potential, the entire nation suffers the consequences. This is especially true when speaking about improving minority health in America.”