Now is the time to stand up for health equity! Recently, the House passed H.R.6800 (the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the HEROES Act) that includes important data collection, health equity, and mental health provisions addressing psychosocial supports. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the Secretary of HHS, to update and make publicly available the report to Congress required by the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act on the collection of data on race, ethnicity, age, sex, and gender of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Urges the Secretary of HHS to expand on a report to Congress required by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to include the testing, positive diagnoses, hospitalization, intensive care admissions, and mortality rates associated with COVID–19, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, sex, and gender;
- Authorizes grants to state, local, and territorial health departments in order to support the modernization of data collection methods and infrastructure to increase data collection-related health inequities;
- Requires the National Institutes of Health to conduct a 10-year Longitudinal Study on the full impact of SARS–COVID–19 on infected individuals, including both short-term and long-term health impacts;
- Supports $3 billion to SAMHSA for increased mental health support, substance abuse treatment, and increased outreach;
- Provides $2.1 billion to address health care needs related to coronavirus for Native Americans;
- Gives $100 million for Aging and Disability Services Programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus:
- Protects certain noncitizens as well as certain immigrant visa applicants affected by processing delays and travel restrictions related to the COVID-19;
- Includes $10.1 billion for the Administration for Children and Families to provide supportive services for families, fund childcare programs for essential workers, and prevent child abuse and neglect;
- Supports $600 million in funding to address the COVID-19 crisis in state and local prisons and jails;
- Includes $15 million for the Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program to maintain operations, rental assistance, supportive services, and other necessary actions to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on low-income persons with HIV/AIDS;
- Expands safety net programs such as the Social Services Block Grant, Tax Credits for low-income households, Family and Medical Leave, Emergency Rental Assistance, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to support children, families, and communities; and
- Prohibits discrimination in the administration of programs and services receiving federal funding based on any factor that is not merit-based, such as age, disability, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), race, color, national origin, immigration status, or religion.
We applaud the House for passing this important legislation, but a deal in the Senate is needed! Now is the time to start building the bipartisan support necessary in the Senate to advance the relief package. Please contact your Senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, and ask them to support important provisions like these that address equity in the Senate legislation.