Investing in Health Equity in Massachusetts
The Members Lounge at the State House was a standing room only today when the Disparities Action Network (DAN) presented an event titled, Investing in Health Equity: Taking Action to Reduce Health Disparities in Massachusetts. Health Disparities Council Co-Chairs Representative Rushing and Senator Fargo welcomed the crowd, emphasizing the importance of addressing disparities to improve public health and reduce health care costs.
The briefing featured a segment of the award winning documentary Unnatural Causes, which highlighted the social and geographic issues that impact health outcomes. Public health experts in the film described the link between areas with high rates of diabetes, hypertension, and asthma complications and the composition of those neighborhoods in terms of food access, green space, public safety, and other socioeconomic conditions. The film emphasized the importance of social and economic policies that address health disparities by attacking their root causes.
State experts addressed questions about health and place with the energetic crowd. Mr. Elmer Freeman (CCHERS), Professor Renee Landers (Suffolk University Law School) and Dr. Nancy Norman (Boston Public Health Commission) all discussed the need for a coordinated state strategy to improve health disparities in Massachusetts. The state’s Executive Office of Health Equity was highlighted as an important leader to coordinate strategies and develop solutions that involve all of the relevant agencies in state government, such as education, housing, transportation. Legislation to codify the Office in statute is currently before the Health Care Financing Committee (S.810).
The Disparities Action Network thanks Representative Rushing and Senator Fargo for their support of this event, and leadership in the legislature on health disparities. The coalition also recognizes the continued commitment of Secretary Bigby and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in working towards health equity in Massachusetts.