Pascrell, Booker Bill to Reduce Health Disparities
Legislation will study and integrate innovative ways to address social determinants of health and health equity
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Researching and Ending Disparities by Understanding and Creating Equity (REDUCE) Act, legislation aimed at reducing health care disparities among disadvantaged groups. The bill is cosponsored by Representatives John Lewis (D-GA-05), Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA-38), Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Tom Suozzi (D-NY-03), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), and Terri Sewell (AL-07).
“Health is our most personal asset, and it should go without saying that race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, or disability should not determine one’s ability to obtain quality, affordable health care. Access should be equitable for all Americans – and our legislation will ensure a path to health equity,” said Rep. Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee which oversees the Medicare program. “Further, our bill will help identify and support strategies that have proven successful in reducing health disparities for our most vulnerable, while simultaneously directing federal dollars towards those programs. We want to guarantee that resources are used on programs that expand health care access to those who need it most.”
“Race, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics should never have an impact on a person’s quality of care or access to care,” said Sen. Booker. “Disparities and inequities in health are rampant; for example, across the country, people of color are more likely to suffer from diseases like prostate cancer, HIV, diabetes, kidney disease, and breast cancer. We need to study promising interventions that address health and health equity in a holistic, multidimensional manner. Our bill does just that because all Americans should have access to quality health care as a basic human right. ”
The REDUCE Act would create a Health in All Policies (HiAP) Demonstration Project and direct the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to prepare a report on eliminating health disparities while improving health equity. The proposal has been endorsed by Families USA and the American Public Health Association.
Given its diversity, the Garden State is particularly hard-hit by health disparities. A 2019 report found New Jersey’s variation in life expectancy spans 22 years, with the life expectancy at 69.2 years in the weakest performing zip code and in the zip code with the longest life expectancy at 91.4 years. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made significant strides toward expanding insurance coverage, many individuals still lack health insurance. In New Jersey, there is wide variation in the percent of individuals lacking insurance from community to community, ranging from a low of 0.7 percent to a high of 35.6 percent.
Rep. Pascrell first introduced similar legislation in 2014 with Senator Booker, and has been dedicated to expanding health care access throughout his congressional tenure. This spring, Rep. Pascrell actively participated in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the issue of maternal health and mortality rates.
An original author and cosponsor of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Pascrell is committed to effectuating real change for seniors and people living with pre-existing conditions. Last month, Pascrell helped pass through the Ways and Means Committee H.R. 3, landmark legislation that will lower prescription drug costs for millions of Americans. Pascrell also successfully had the legislation renamed for the late Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, a champion of lowering prescription drug prices. In May, Pascrell voted in favor of H.R.1503 and H.R.1520, two bills that will improve transparency for prescription drug pricing.