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That’s the dark side of healthcare kids... Photo: Getty Images
That’s the dark side of healthcare kids... Photo: Getty Images

Rep. Chuy García further exposes dark side of the U.S. health system

Rep. Garcia is advocating for the Health Equity and Accountability Act to deal with COVID-19’s devastation.

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Led by Rep. Chuy García (D-IL) the Tri-Caucus has reintroduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2020, created to mend a racist healthcare system. 

In a letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Peolsi, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and more, Garcia and his co-signers make a case for the act, arguing that now, more than ever, the current healthcare system must be addressed. Not only because of COVID-19, but because of the racial disparities that have always put BIPOC at a disadvantage.

The letter, signed by Rep. Garcia, CHC Chair Joaquin Castro, CAPAC Chair Judy Chu, and CBC Chair Karen Bass, requests that the next coronavirus legislative package — whether it be the GOP’s version or the Heroes Act —  include critical funds to address the racial disparities highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must ensure that communities of color have access to affordable, quality health care,” wrote Garcia. “Tri-Caucus Chairs & I are urging Congressional Leadership to include several provisions of #HEAA2020 in the upcoming #COVID-19 relief package to help bridge health gaps for people of color.”

 

In a Medium post by Rep. Garcia co-written by Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS, the many ways the HEAA act could help are laid out.

The post wastes no time in referencing CDC data, which reports that as of Aug. 6, 20% of COVID cases occurred in the Black community and 31.6% occurred among Hispanics. 

These are also likely undercounts, data suggests, as most states do not collect accurate racial or ethnic data pertaining to the virus.

Most importantly, the post also highlights the other pandemic that is running rampant in the nation: racism.

“These two historical moments are, in fact, part of a larger, pervasive problem in our country of discrimination in our criminal justice and helth care systems,” reads the post. “That is why we introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act,” it continues.

What makes the HEAA interesting is it is the only legislation that lays out and addresses health inequalities and their connection to “immigration status, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language, and socio-economic status.” This, along with the history of oppression. 

Essentially it is a blueprint of decisive policies and solutions aimed at eliminating barriers to health coverage, and strengthening the healthcare system for all, especially communities most affected by racial disparities. 

Rep. Nanette D. Barragán (D-CA) showed her support for HEAA and Garcia’s advocacy on Aug. 10. 

“COVID-19 exposes the dark truths of our nation, like drastic racial health disparities and gaps in our social safety net,” she wrote. “Thanks Rep. Chuy Garcia for leading the fight to eliminate health inequalities in our communities & build a stronger health system of tomorrow.” 
 

HEAA establishes a number of programs and requirements focused on BIPOC, but also the needs of LGBTQ individuals, mental health, and individuals with disabilities.

It’s a much-needed step in a positive direction, as underserved communities continue to face substantial inequities in regards to health and racial discrimination — often times both.

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