WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, and Congressman David Trone (D-Md.-6), a member of the Joint Economic Committee, introduced bicameral legislation today, the Assessing Health Evaluations to Advance Decision-making (AHEAD) Act that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to commission a study analyzing the feasibility of using Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) within the federal legislative process. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are original Senate cosponsors of the AHEAD Act.
Health Impact Assessments study the health outcomes of non-health initiatives. There is a growing recognition that non-health policy initiatives, often called social determinants of health, have an impact on health outcomes. Social determinants of health, including social, economic and environmental factors, have a significant and/or direct influence on health care outcomes.
“Congress needs to think beyond traditional health policy silos and fully understand how other factors may affect public and personal health in our communities,” said Senator Cardin. “The AHEAD Act will broaden the scope of how we view federal legislation and allow us to be more effective stewards of taxpayer funds while reducing health disparities.”
“When Congress passes legislation, it’s our responsibility to ensure it will benefit Americans and their quality of life – no matter their zip code,” said Congressman Trone. “Today, many Americans experience health conditions that are largely preventable, such as asthma and cancer. We must do better. The AHEAD Act will provide vital insight on how policy changes will impact the health of Americans across our country. It’s just the right thing to do.”
The AHEAD Act has garnered broad support, including from the American Public Health Association, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Friends of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Alliance against Disparities in Patient Health, National Hispanic Medical Association, Population Health Alliance, National Rural Health Association and the Maryland Hospital Association.