In late April, CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) participated in a discussion hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to highlight the need for Health Equity.
National Minority Health Month.
As OGTV launches “What Works in STEM Education and Science Diversity, and begins to develop original blog content. and invite aggregated video content for the new Open Medicine channel, the team will spend a consistent period of time developing research and reporting out on subjects related to Precision Medicine, STEM Diversity, and Big Data. The content strategy for the new channel is designed to be informative, educational, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes entertaining stimulating thought and provoking discussions that may from time to time, lead to advancing public policy.
According to the National Library of Medicine data, “Health disparities and health equity have become increasingly familiar terms in public health, but rarely are they defined explicitly. Ambiguity in the definitions of these terms could lead to misdirection of resources. This article discusses the need for greater clarity about the concepts of health disparities and health equity, proposes definitions, and explains the rationale based on principles from the fields of ethics and human rights.
Remarks by CBC Chairman Butterfield
"Thank you Ranking Member Pallone for convening this important health disparities forum. I thank the panelists for sharing insight and expertise on addressing health disparities. This full room shows the tremendous level of interest all of our constituents have in finding ways to strengthen our health care system for patients across the country. That we are meeting here today in the Congressional Visitor Center and that there are no Republican Members from the House Energy and Commerce Committee speaks volumes. 477 days have passed since the beginning of the 114th Congress and the Republican Majority has been unwilling to hold a single hearing on health disparities like we are today. By all measurable statistics – from health outcomes to participation in health professions – African Americans lag behind. Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion has slowed progress".
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that state expansion of Medicaid under the ACA is optional. Based on that decision, nineteen states, including my home state of North Carolina, effectively eliminated access to healthcare for many low-income African Americans and denied millions of individuals billions of federal dollars, which could have stimulated each state’s economy. Despite repeated efforts by Republicans to halt its progress, nearly 13 million Americans enrolled in health insurance through the ACA. The ACA alone cannot eliminate the chronic health disparities that plague our country today but it can certainly help.
CBC Chairman says, "Today’s forum is an opportunity to have conversations about three important areas of disparities which exist in our nation. African Americans are 50 percent more likely to die from heart disease or stroke prematurely than White Americans, so discussing how to improve cardiovascular health outcomes is especially significant to my constituents." Also key to improving health care in our country is finding more ways to encourage diversity in our nation’s workforce and reducing the number of Health Professional Shortage Areas in communities of color and rural communities. Finally, I appreciate that this forum will discuss ways to include African Americans in cutting edge research and development.
I am pleased to welcome Dr. Gary Bennett from Duke University in North Carolina’s First Congressional District who will discuss some of his discoveries utilizing digital tools to combat obesity. Congress must continue to protect important federal programs like the Prevention and Public Health Fund and Community Health Centers for all Americans regardless of race, gender, geography, or beliefs. We must think creatively to establish policies to reduce the disparities in the communities we represent. For that reason, I am pleased that President Obama recently signed into law my legislation to add the Zika virus to the Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher Program. Finally, I am hopeful that Congress will pass my bill to establish a National Prostate Cancer Plan to address disparities in prostate cancer prevalence for African Americans. African American men have the highest prostate cancer rates of any racial or ethnic group. Black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and nearly two and a half times as likely to die from the disease.
"Prostate cancer can strike anyone. Many of us have either been personally affected by prostate cancer or have lost a loved one who suffered from the disease. Enactment of my bill will be a giant step forward in our battle to combat this treatable disease so that men can live longer and healthier lives”. Living longer to become less dependent on the health care system, to become a bigger contributor to society and the tax base, and to be a healthier producing contributor to the economy is in some measure, a core area of both contrast and compliment when it comes to highlighting the difference between what is needed to achieve health equity goals, and “ What Works” to reduce health disparities. To accomplish both goals would seem to be the shaping of an ideal world whereby we can achieve improved health and productivity among diverse communities thereby reducing disaprities. This theory, is what OGTV will follow over a series of feature stories.
That’s why I’m hopeful the Energy and Commerce Committee will honor my request to expeditiously hold a hearing on this important bill. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the commitment of each person in this room to eliminating health disparities in our country. Congressman Butterfield thanked the attendees very much for being here today. OGTV thanks the Congressional Black Caucus for its contribution to this OGTV Feature story, and reminds our audiences to Keep it Locked @www.opengovtv.com 365 where Black History Month is “EveryDay.”