HEAA will eliminate health disparities in the U.S. health care system

WASHINGTON — Today, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum congratulate Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (HI) for announcing the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA). This bill is a roadmap for eliminating health and health care disparities by building on previous successful strategies, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“For almost a decade, APIAHF has supported HEAA as a comprehensive blueprint to increase health equity for everyone,” said Juliet K. Choi, executive vice president of APIAHF. “We congratulate Sen. Hirono for leading the Senate with HEAA to ensure that everyone has access to quality health care. Affordable, accessible health care is increasingly important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, which disproportionately affects communities of color.”

Achieving health equity requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the varying and layered factor affecting health access and health outcomes — immigration status, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language and socio-economic status. HEAA is a comprehensive plan to tackle these factors in every part of the U.S. health care system, including making health insurance coverage more affordable, promoting investments in innovative health delivery methods and technologies, and advancing research and data collection about the health needs and outcomes of diverse communities.

Individual sections of HEAA have already gone into effect, including reimbursement for language services under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), enhanced data collection requirements in federal health surveys and elevation of the Office of Minority Health to the Office of the Secretary of HHS in the ACA.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2020 by Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4) with support from the Congressional Tri-Caucus and 230 local, state and national organizations including APIAHF.

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The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) influences policy, mobilizes communities and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.