A person’s health is impacted by a myriad of social and economic conditions in which they are born, live, work and age. The availability of safe and affordable housing, education and employment opportunities, food security, and access to quality healthcare all influence a person’s opportunity for good health. But these factors are not equally available to all Americans.
This Black History Month, TFAH calls for an end to the systemic and structural racism that continue to prevent Black Americans from achieving optimal health.
Structural racism is a predominant driver of health inequities – inequities that, on average, lead to more chronic disease, less access to healthcare, higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, and shorter life expectancy for Black people and other people of color as compared to whites. This increased risk for poorer health outcomes persists when controlling for socioeconomic status.
TFAH offers the following policy recommendations to advance health equity:
- Make advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities a national priority. Such a priority requires ending systemic barriers and advancing policies and programs that create equitable opportunity for health and well-being.
- Strengthen public health’s capacity to address health inequities, including modernizing public health data systems to better track health disparities, strengthening workforce training and recruitment from diverse communities, and investing in health equity expertise at health departments.
- Target the elimination of poverty by increasing the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit at the national and state levels.
- Increase funding for programs that address health inequities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program.
- Increase access to high-quality healthcare for all by strengthening incentives to expand Medicaid in all states and by making marketplace coverage more affordable for low- and moderate-income people.
- Create a national standard mandating job-protected paid family and medical leave for all employees.
- Increase funding for programs that promote long-term security and good health for children and families, including programs designed to expand access to affordable housing and Head Start, Early Head Start, and nutrition support programs such as Healthy School Meals for All, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
For more information about policy actions to improve health outcomes in communities of color, see these TFAH reports and webinars:
- A Blueprint for the 2021 Administration and Congress: The Promise of Good Health for All: Transforming Public Health in America
- Leveraging Evidence-based Policies to Improve Health, Control Costs and Address Health Inequities
- Ending the Triple Pandemic: Advancing Racial Equity by Promoting Health, Economic Opportunity and Criminal Justice Reform
- COVID-19 and the Impact on Communities: Our Nation’s Inequities Exposed
- Creating Change Through Leadership: Two Extraordinary Leaders, A Mother and Daughter, Share Their Experiences Promoting Racial Equity