The Ways and Means Committee recently released a report, Something Must Change: Inequities in U.S. Policy and Society, along with a new legislative framework, A Bold Vision for a Legislative Pathway Toward Health and Economic Equity, outlining how the Committee will address the connection between racism and health and economic inequity in the United States. The report emphasized how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on older adults, those with disabilities and chronic conditions, and communities of color. The report also highlighted a concern that the Center for Medicare Advocacy has also been wary of –
that an increased reliance on telehealth during the pandemic could exacerbate some inequities, particularly for patients with poor digital literacy and for those with limited English proficiency (LEP).
The report found that in order to address the inequities exposed, and often worsened, by the pandemic, the structural racism underlying these inequities must be identified and addressed.
Thus, the pandemic has been as indiscriminate in its ability to infect as it has been in magnifying the degree to which systems and structures across sectors fail to adequately address the needs of communities with higher concentrations of people from the same socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups. The key to rectifying the sources of these failures is in naming and clarifying root causes and practical responses that best serve those whose actual needs have long been invisible to race-neutral policies.
The legislative framework includes Health Equity and Economic Equity Pillars, with sets of policy priorities under each pillar, including Adaptable, Accessible Technologies and Modernized Infrastructure, Affordable, Comprehensive, and Accessible Health Care, and Retirement Security. These documents follow the 2020 Ways and Means report Left Out: Barriers to Health Equity for Rural and Underserved Communities
- CMA Alert on the 2020 Ways and Means report, available at: Administration Proposes Permanent and Temporary Extensions of Pandemic-Related Medicare Telehealth – Growing Disparities and Other Concerns Remain (medicareadvocacy.org)
- CMA Alert on recent study on telehealth, available at: Study Finds Inequities in Telehealth Care | Center for Medicare Advocacy
January 28, 2021 – K. Kertesz