“Racial inequality also includes health care.”

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We are hearing the demands for justice and equality loud and clear in cities and towns across Pennsylvania and nationwide – outcries over systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans and people of color.

That racial inequality also includes health care.

Study after study continues to show definitive links between higher rates of chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes, among our Black, Latino, and Native American residents.

Racism is truly a public health problem. It leads to higher levels of stress and significantly reduces access to medical and social services. It leads to higher levels of maternal mortality, disease, disability, and death.

Case in point: as it relates to maternal mortality, data from the National Center for Health Statistics for 2018, the most recent year available, showed the average estimated maternal death rate for all mothers nationwide is approximately 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, which equaled 658 women who died due to maternal causes. The center reports wide racial and ethnic gaps clearly exist between non-Hispanic Black women (37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births) compared to non-Hispanic white women (14.7).

As a state, we can and must do better, and my legislation will effectively address racial inequities among Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in Pennsylvania.

My legislation would create a racial equity task force within the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. This task force would be responsible for overseeing the review of policies and provide recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly on efforts focused on reducing disparities between people of color and white residents statewide.

We have the tools and resources to make a true difference in the lives of people in the 19th District and across the commonwealth.

It is vital that we respond to this public health crisis because this discrimination is putting real lives at stake.

I am urging my colleagues in the House to support my measure and I welcome any questions or concerns you may have on this issue. Please feel free to reach out to me via email at repwheatley@pahouse.net or call The People’s Office at 412-471-7760.

Related posts:

District 19 News from Rep. Jake Wheatley: July 2020

District 19 News from Rep. Jake Wheatley: June 2020

District 19 News from Rep. Jake Wheatley: May 2020

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