April 17, 2021

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Hoyer Pushes for Health Enterprise Zones Act

Clinics Hoyer Pushes for Health Enterprise Zones Act

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer is among several members of Congress who have introduced the Health Enterprise Zones Act to close the gaps in the US health care system that have left behind minorities and underserved communities.

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare disparities in the health care system along racial and geographic lines, Congressman Hoyer (D-MD) said.

The bill creates incentives to attract health care practitioners to work in health-disadvantaged communities.

Nationwide protests against racial injustice have highlighted long-standing disparities in criminal justice, economic opportunity, housing, education, and the health care system. Data consistently shows COVID-19 disproportionately impacting communities of color. Unfortunately, this reality is not surprising, Mr. Hoyer said. People of color are more likely to be uninsured and are at a higher risk of asthma, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

In 2017, African-Americans were 20% more likely to die from heart disease than and have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate compared to non-Hispanic whites.

“With its disproportionate impact on people of color, the coronavirus pandemic has raised awareness of long-standing health disparities among African Americans and other minority communities in Maryland. These health disparities have been made worse by our nation’s criminal justice, education, housing, and employment policies, among other areas of public policy,” Congressman Hoyer said. “The Health Enterprise Zones Act would incentivize health care providers to ensure our communities receive the care they deserve and take steps to address racial disparities that plague our communities. I applaud Congressman [Anthony] Brown for introducing this critically important legislation, and I look forward to working with him to pass this long-needed bill.”

“For far too long, communities of color and underserved populations have faced unacceptable barriers in our health care system. From access, to diagnosis, treatment and ultimate medical outcomes — these disparities have resulted in preventable deaths and hardship for families. That status quo is unacceptable,” Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD) said. “We need long-term solutions to address the inequities that have plagued our society for far too long. This legislation will begin to right those and work toward providing the quality, affordable health care that all Americans deserve.”

In 2013, a similar initiative was launched in Maryland. Participating communities saw a decrease of more than 18,000 inpatient stays by 2016. This reduction in hospital admissions yielded a net health savings of over $108 million, far outweighing the $15 million it cost to implement the program.

Besides Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Brown, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) introduced the legislation.

The following organizations have endorsed the Health Enterprise Zones Act: Families USA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Heart Association, CLASP, the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, the American Public Health Association, and CASA.

Follow Congressman Hoyer on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader member page.

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