Asm. Wicks Announces Bill to Address Racial Healthcare Disparities
OAKLAND — To begin addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) is taking the lead and working with frontline healthcare workers in SEIU-United Healthcare Workers (SEIU-UHW) to champion the Race & Healthcare Transparency Act (AB 1204). This bill would establish the collection of data on patient health outcomes by race, ethnicity, and other vulnerable demographic groups to ensure providers are delivering equal care for all.
“Public health officials can only make the most informed and equitable decisions for our communities if they truly understand the long-term impact of COVID-19 and other determinants of health on communities of color,” said Assemblymember Wicks. “Understanding and acting upon these hard truths requires a system of hard facts. The Race & Healthcare Transparency Act will foster the creation of a data-driven system, and ensure that the State responds to racial health disparities in the most informed and just way possible.”
The Race & Healthcare Transparency Act would address healthcare disparities by:
- Requiring healthcare providers to publicly post and submit to the state an annual report on health outcomes by racial, ethnic, and other demographic groups.
- Requiring annual reports to include a plan to address any disparities identified, ensuring the data leads to improvements in care.
- Requiring that healthcare employers with more than 100 employees include in the report a copy of their most recent pay data as well as a plan for improving equity and diversity of staff and management.
The state of California has limited data from healthcare providers on the health and wellbeing of people of color, yet the COVID-19 crisis makes clear: Black, Latino, and Indigenous people are at increased risk of exposure, illness, hospitalization, and death due to Coronavirus — a disproportionate level relative to their share of the population.
“Communities of color can feel the impact of COVID-19 as we make up such a high proportion of patients and essential healthcare workers during this crisis,” said Georgette Bradford, an SEIU-UHW Executive Committee Member and Ultrasound Technologist in Sacramento. “Every day we see patients who can’t afford housing or healthy food, don’t have insurance, and can’t communicate with their doctors because of language barriers. To win healthcare justice and racial justice, the State needs to see what workers see on the frontlines of this pandemic, and require our hospitals to send them data on the quality of care given to people of color.”
AB 1204 rounds out Asm. Wicks’ 2021 legislative package, which includes policies designed to protect working families, renters, and Californians recovering from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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