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Committee to Consider 19 Bills on Racial and Ethnic Disparities

June 8, 2009

Boston, MA – Despite the passage of the Health Care Reform Law in 2006, disparities in treatment still exist in several minority communities throughout Massachusetts. Nineteen bills related to health care disparities will be presented to the legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health on Tuesday.

State Representative Byron Rushing, a lead sponsor on two of those bills, says one of the main issues he faces is convincing people that institutional racism still exists. For example, he says, there's a disproportionate rate of infant mortality in most communities of color.

"There has been a problem in our society between the way services are delivered and the way various systems affect different people of different races and different ethnicities."

State Senator Susan Fargo also sponsored two of the bills. She says the state has become increasingly aware of disparities in health care that run along racial and ethnic lines.

"We know that this contributes to the high health care cost in this country, because these folks are not getting access to preventive care."

State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, says disparities in health care affect us all.

"We're all stakeholders in our collective well-being, and it's our duty as a commonwealth to continue our efforts in eradicating health disparities, especially in times of economic instability."

The Joint Committee on Public Health Hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Gardner Auditorium of the State House in Boston.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA