A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Step by Step: Progress on Addressing Health Disparities

Step by Step: Progress on Addressing Health Disparities

March 14, 2008

Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Public Health favorably reported HB 2234, An Act to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the Commonwealth. The omnibus legislation was filed by Rep. Byron Rushing in January 2007 and heard by the Committee in May 2007. Rep. Rushing has been a key leader in the fight to eliminate disparities, working with the Disparities Action Network (DAN) and the Patrick Administration to advance health disparities policy. Massachusetts continues to make real progress on this issue, with several efforts coming together over the last two years. Governor Patrick’s FY 09 Budget initiative calls for the creation of an EOHHS Office of Health Equity, tasked with coordinating all state agency efforts to eliminate health disparities. The recommendation is consistent with the 2007 Special Legislative Commission on Health Disparities Final Report which recommends a similar structure to provide leadership and resources for disparities elimination. The Special Commission, co-chaired by Rep. Peter Koutoujian and Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, raised the profile of health disparities throughout Massachusetts and provided a plan of action for the state. HCFA and the DAN continue to advocate for the Office of Health Equity proposed in the Governor’s budget, HB 2234, and the Special Legislative Commission Final Report. Special thanks to the Administrative and Legislative leaders who have worked to advance policy change to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in the Commonwealth. Camille Watson