June 25, 2021
House Panel Examines Pressley Bill to Confront Structural Racism as a Public Health Crisis
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing where it examined legislative proposals seeking to advance health equity, including the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, a bill championed by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Senator Elizabeth (D-MA) that would declare structural racism a public health crisis and confront its public health impacts through two bold new programs within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Rep. Pressley called for swift passage of the legislation in written testimony submitted to the committee. Full text of her testimony is available here.
“The Anti-Racism in Public Health Act is… bold, progressive policy that meets the scale and scope of the crisis we are living in,” wrote Pressley in her testimony. “In this moment of national reckoning, the federal government has a moral obligation to actively pursue anti-racist policies and dismantle systemic racism once and for all.”
“This Committee has an opportunity to be intentional and precise in legislating justice and equity by collecting data and taking action on racial disparities in health outcomes,” Rep. Pressley continued. “We must do all that we can to root out racism everywhere it exists, including in our public health system. A more just and equitable nation is possible.”
In the hearing, Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03) urged his colleagues in Congress to improve health equity and invest in efforts to root out systemic racism in America by passing the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act. Full video of his remarks is available here.
“I believe Congress should use every available tool to create an equitable recovery, as well as address the root causes that have created health disparities for years,” said Congressman Sarbanes, Vice Chair of the House Health Subcommittee. “For too long, the federal government has failed to adequately recognize and address structural racism as the public health crisis that it is. Black and brown communities have been denied access to quality, affordable health care, have faced barriers to securing safe, quality, affordable housing and have suffered the consequences of environmental racism for generations.”
Sarbanes continued: “One way to do that is by passing … the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act … a critical bill introduced by my colleagues, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Barbara Lee. This bill would expand federal research and investment into the public health impacts of structural racism, require the federal government to proactively develop anti-racist health policy and take a public health approach to combating police violence.”
The Anti-Racism in Public Health Act would help expand research and investment into the public health impacts of structural racism and require the federal government to begin actively developing anti-racist health policy. Specifically, it would:
- Create a “National Center for Anti-Racism” at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to declare racism as the public health crisis that it is and further develop the research base and knowledge in the science and practice of anti-racism; and
- Create a Law Enforcement Violence Prevention Program within the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC.
To learn more about the legislation, click here.
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