WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) praised Senate passage of a resolution promoting the importance of minority health and efforts to end health disparities. S. Res. 428, which recognized April as Minority Health Awareness Month, passed by unanimous consent. A companion resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Al Green (D-Texas).
“Inequalities in health status and health care exact an enormous human and economic toll on our nation that we simply cannot afford. We cannot accept the status quo– where African American children have a 60 percent higher prevalence of asthma than white children, or one where Native Americans and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to have diabetes as whites. Your race, ethnicity or zip code should not dictate your health status,” said Senator Cardin. “Our work is unfinished, but now we have a national strategy for quality improvement with more tools and resources at our disposal to fight the challenges inherent in our health care system.”
“Everyone deserves equal access to care,” Senator Schatz said. “In the Senate, I have worked to secure funding for health programs designed to reverse the persistent healthcare disparities Native Hawaiians face, but we can, we need to, and we will do better to improve healthcare access for our native communities. When people have access to healthcare, they get healthier.”
“In 2014 it is unacceptable that people in the United States have different access to quality care and different health outcomes based on their ethnicity or race. As the Affordable Care Act is providing improved access to care for minority communities, recognizing Minority Health Awareness Month allows us to go further to reach the goal of eliminating all health disparities in our nation,” said Senator Menendez. “I salute the Senate’s passage of this resolution and will continue working towards a goal of equal access to care for all those in need.”
S. Res. 428 promotes minority health awareness and supports the goals and ideals of National Minority Health Month in April 2014, which include bringing attention to the health disparities faced by minority populations of the United States, such as American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, African Americans Hispanic Americans and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders.
According to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, between 2003-2006, the combined cost of “health inequalities and premature death in the United States” was $1.24 trillion. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has identified six main categories in which racial and ethnic minorities experience the most disparate access to health care and health outcomes: infant mortality, cancer screening and management, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/ADS, and immunizations.
Senator Cardin’s amendment to the Affordable Care Act, established six Offices of Minority Health throughout HHS and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.