Administration Outlines Steps to Help Black Americans and Other Racial and Ethnic Minorities Fight COVID-19

June 9, 2020 — Blog    — Coronavirus Bulletin    — In Case You Missed It...    — Press Releases   

Key points: 

-The Department of Health and Humans Services outlined a multi-pronged approach to tackle the racial and ethnic health disparities our country has seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

-President Trump and his team recognize that there are long-standing problems in our nation’s health care systems that are failing especially underserved communities.

-The Administration is focused on short- and long-term economic and health care responses, to “address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.”

– On May 27, the Committee on Ways and Means held a full committee hearing entitled, “The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color.”

– During that hearing, Republican Leader Brady said, “This is no time to be playing politics, we can’t ignore that racial disparities predate this virus by more than a century… [W]e must focus on: real solutions to long standing disparities.”

Details: 

In an announcement by HHS, President Trump and Secretary Azar have outline some actions the Administration is currently taking to “improve prevention, testing, and treatment of COVID-19” in underserved communities.

You can read the full report here.

Here are the key takeaways from the report:

  • The Administration is working toward “Improving our Understating of COVID-19’s Impact on Minorities.” Here is what they are doing at the CDC to accomplish this:
    • Strengthening data collection and reporting on racial and ethnic minority populations;
    • Publishing data on hospitalizations by race and ethnicity;
    • Using surveillance and epidemiology to assess risk factors; and
    • Utilizing electronic health records to “understand and address the impact of COVID-19 on minority and vulnerable communities.”
  • The Administration is also working to make testing more accessible and affordable. 
    • The CDC has awarded $10.25 billion to states to increase testing in 64 state and local jurisdictions, and the Indian Health Service (IHS) will be allocating $750 million to increase testing.
  • Testing has been expanded to 1,385 Federally Qualified Health Centers, which are facilities that often provide care to underserved communities;
  • The Administration has also partnered with the private sector to expand testing at community-based retail locations, such as CVSs and Walgreens; and
  • The CDC has also awarded over $800 million to local communities to support contact tracing and testing.
  • The Administration is making treatment more accessible and affordable. 
    • HHS has allocated billions toward paying for COVID-19 related care for uninsured Americans;
    • The Administration has also prohibited debt collectors from going after patients who may have needed to see an out-of-network provider for COVID-19 care;
    • They have sent hundreds of millions of dollars to assist small, rural and safety net hospitals; and
    • The Administration is increasing access to treatments for substance abuse.
  • Telehealth options have been increased. 
    • At-risk populations can face challenges accessing care. By making telehealth more accessible, millions of Americans in underserved communities can receive care;
    • The Administration has also given rural health clinics more flexibility to help serve more patients; and
    • CMS has made telehealth available for Medicaid substance use disorder services.
  • Outreach and communication to minority communities has been increased. 
    • “HHS’s Office of Minority Health announced a competitive funding opportunity to invest up to $40 million for the development and coordination of a strategic network of national, state, territorial, tribal, and local organizations to deliver important COVID-19-related information to racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially disadvantaged communities hardest hit by the pandemic”:
    • The Administration is also ensuring that patients with limited English can receive help and guidance in accessing care; and
    • The Food and Drug Administration has “increased outreach by developing and disseminating COVID-19 health education materials for consumers in multiple languages.”

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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SUBCOMMITTEE: Health    SUBCOMMITTEE: Oversight