Cbc Hour: Eliminating Health Disparitiesby Representative Marcia L. Fudge
Posted on 2013-05-06
FUDGE. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to thank my
colleagues, both Congressmen Horsford and Jeffries, again for leading
the Congressional Black Caucus Special Order hour. This hour is to
discuss health disparities. You both have done an incredible job
carrying the message of the CBC on the House floor each week, and I
Mr. Speaker, the health disparities between African Americans and other racial and ethnic populations are striking. When compared with the country as a whole, African Americans are three times more likely to die from diabetes. We account for about 44 percent of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents, despite representing only about 13 percent of the U.S. population. African-American men can expect to live approximately 6 years less than White men. African- American women are twice as likely to give birth to low-weight infants, and our children are almost five times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma.
Though health disparities manifest in life-threatening ways, such as lower life expectancy and higher disease rates, the root cause is poverty. Where you live and how you live have a direct effect on how long and how well you live. Until we address the persistent poverty that plagues our communities, the debilitating cost of health disparities will continue to rise.
According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, health disparities collectively cost minorities more than $1.24 trillion from 2003 to 2006. We must create and maintain a path toward greater health equity in America. We can't afford the status quo.
Thankfully, a path to equity has begun to take shape, a path that reduces the rates of illness and premature death and increases access to quality health care. The solution was and is the Affordable Care Act--or, as it is known to many, ObamaCare. We are proud to call it ObamaCare because it proves that the President and many in this Congress really do care about the health of Americans.
ObamaCare has already begun to lower the cost of health care by providing financial relief for consumers, increasing insurance options, investing in preventative and primary care, and placing a focus on minority health. The ACA helps decrease health disparities by collecting data, strengthening cultural training, and increasing diversity in the health care field. These investments are critically important and will strengthen America's financial future.
Some on the other side of the aisle believe the status quo is sufficient, that health disparities are not real. Some don't believe that the impact of disparities on families is devastating. That's why a number of Republicans are again calling for the repeal of the ACA. How many times do we have to play this game? The CBC will continue to stand up, speak out and defend the Affordable Care Act against all of those who oppose it for political or ideological reasons. Attaining health equity is to the benefit of all Americans, and is not only consistent with the American promise of opportunity, but it is critical to the future of Black America.
Mr. HORSFORD. At this time I would like to recognize the vice chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, a leader on a number of key issues that the Congressional Black Caucus is facing this 113th Congress, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Butterfield).