WASHINGTON – Today, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) applauds Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) for introducing the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 (HEAA). The bill serves as a comprehensive plan to eliminate health and health care disparities by building on previous health care access and quality improvement strategies. HEAA also provides legislative solutions and resources for communities of color and other underserved groups. Over 300 national, state and local organizations have signed on with APIAHF to support the bill. The introduction of HEAA in the Senate will be forthcoming by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (HI).

“We commend Congresswoman Lee and the Congressional Tri-Caucus for their leadership and commitment to putting us on a path toward health equity,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “As a complement to the historic reforms achieved by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HEAA presents a comprehensive, holistic and integrated plan to address the spectrum of barriers impeding health equity for communities of color and underserved groups. In order to create healthy livelihoods for all people across the country, Congress must act and pass this common-sense legislation.”

For over a decade, the Congressional Tri-Caucus—the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus—has led reintroduction of the HEAA each Congress. In 2011, APIAHF worked with CAPAC to update the HEAA to reflect significant gains in health access through the ACA and has continued to lead national advocacy for the bill. In 2017 and 2018, APIAHF renewed that partnership by leading health equity advocates through the Community Working Group to strengthen HEAA to meet today’s health challenges. 

Health equity can only be achieved through understanding the various factors that impact individual and community health including immigration status, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language and socio-economic status. The ten titles of HEAA address every facet of health care and its delivery system. HEAA will eliminate barriers to affordable health insurance coverage, promote investments in innovative health delivery methods and technologies and advance research and data collection about the health needs and outcomes of diverse communities.  

The 2018 bill builds on previous efforts and includes new sections to ensure that the current drive to improve health care quality contains a corresponding focus on disparities elimination and addresses the need to protect sensitive locations for immigrant communities seeking health care. 

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