House Passes Bill Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis
Yesterday, the House sent a powerful piece of legislation to the Governor’s desk. S.B. 1 declares that racism is a public health crisis in our state.
Earlier this year, the CDC issued a statement which declared, in part, that “racism, both structural and interpersonal, are fundamental causes of health inequities, health disparities and disease.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the wide health and quality of life disparities in communities of color. Studies have shown that Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women; Black men are more than twice as likely to be killed by police as white men; and the average life expectancy of Black Americans is four years lower than the rest of the U.S. population.
It is long past time that we address these disparities.
Beyond identifying the racism as a public health crisis, S.B. 1 also includes a number of provisions aimed at addressing and combatting this public health crisis such as:
- Creating a Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health to make recommendations to decrease racism’s effect on public health and to create a strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and inequities
- Increasing recruitment and retention of healthcare workers of color
- Providing employers with tools to support their mental health needs
- Establishing a gun violence intervention and prevention committee
- Improving demographic data collection
Yesterday, I was proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this comprehensive bill which takes substantive steps towards addressing the systemic inequities that exist in our state.