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America’s Essential Hospitals Promotes Legislation to Reduce Disparities


WASHINGTON — America’s Essential Hospitals today called on Congress to support legislation that would give states greater power to direct Medicaid funding to hospitals and other providers that collaborate on reducing health disparities.

The Eliminating Health Disparities Act of 2017 (H.R. 2048), introduced in April by Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), would allow states to apply for Medicaid state plan amendments to establish a Health Disparities Elimination Program. Hospitals with a safety-net role, alone or with other providers, would apply for funding from the state to develop initiatives to reduce disparities among specific populations—Latino men at high risk for colorectal cancer, for example.

“Rep. Luján understands that upstream factors—food insecurity, homelessness, low income—contribute to health disparities for millions of Americans,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals. “His bill will direct resources toward programs that attack disparities at their source, and we thank him for his leadership.”

The needs of vulnerable people, and the challenges they face, can vary widely across states, cities, and neighborhoods. The Eliminating Health Disparities Act takes advantage of the knowledge only states and local providers have about their populations to design targeted, effective programs.

The bill would fund disparities initiatives by Qualified Community Health Systems for up to five years and provide opportunities for funding renewals. The bill also would require Qualified Community Health Systems to report on their progress and adhere to evidence-based approaches to care. The legislation would not define targeted populations by coverage source. The association is calling on its more than 300 members to ask their members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill.

“Hospitals—especially, essential hospitals, which care for our most challenging patients—are increasingly reaching into the community to help people overcome the barriers to good health in their daily lives,” Siegel said. “This bill recognizes and encourages this important work already underway, and ensures providers and their patients have the resources they need to succeed.”

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has initiated, advanced, and preserved programs and policies that help these hospitals ensure access to care. We support members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education.

Our more than 300 members are vital to their communities, providing primary care through trauma care, disaster response, health professional training, research, public health programs, and other services. They innovate and adapt to lead the broader health care community toward more effective and efficient care.

Carl Graziano


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