The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to advancing health equity and improving health outcomes of Black communities. The following is a snapshot of various efforts made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Making Health Care Accessible and Affordable
- Millions of uninsured Americans gained coverage during the Administration’s 2021 Special Enrollment Period (SEP). More than 2.8 million Americans signed up for new health insurance coverage, and among those who reported their race, 15 percent of the enrollees were Black, up from 9 percent in 2019. [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)]
- Millions of lower- and middle-income Black families enrolled in health insurance marketplaces saw their premiums lowered or eliminated as a result of the American Rescue Plan: Existing consumers saved an average of $67 per person per month on their premiums. Four out of five consumers were able to access a plan for $10 or less per month with this newly expanded financial assistance. [CMS]
- Thanks in part to the Administration’s policies, including the Special Enrollment Period and the American Rescue Plan, the overall uninsured rate decreased from 10.3 percent at the end of 2020 to 8.9 percent in the fall of 2021. [Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)]
- Among more than half a million people served by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP), 73.4 percent are from racial and ethnic minority groups, with 46.6 percent of people identifying as Black/African American. [Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)]
Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response
Nationwide, Black people have died from COVID-19 at 1.4 times the rate of White people. The Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $160 billion for the vaccines, tests, personal protective equipment, and public health workforce needed to address the spread of COVID-19, an investment that is helping to drive down racial disparities in prevention and care.
- Health centers have administered nearly 19 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, including more than 8 million doses administered through HHS’s Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. Overall, 68 percent has gone to racial and/or ethnic minority patients as of January 14, 2022. [HRSA]
- Awarded $323 million to 150 national, regional and local community-based organizations for COVID-19 vaccine outreach and education initiatives to reach medically underserved communities in all 50 states. [HRSA]
- Awarded $250 million to 73 local governments to implement evidence-based health literacy strategies that are culturally appropriate to enhance COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and/or other mitigation measures among Black communities and other racial and ethnic minority populations and socially vulnerable populations. [Office of Minority Health (OMH)]
- Issued guidance to help health care providers understand their obligations under civil rights laws to improve access to COVID-19 vaccine programs and ensure equal access that is free from discriminatory barriers because of race, color, or national origin (including language spoken). [Office for Civil Rights (OCR)]
- Invested $6 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to community health centers nationwide to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment to deliver needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19 and underserved communities. [HRSA]
- Funded $300 million to support community health workers (CHWs) who support populations at high risk and communities hit hardest by COVID-19, and $200 million to CHWs to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in underserved communities. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)]
- Announced a plan to invest $2.25 billion over two years to address COVID-19 related health disparities and advance health equity among populations that are at high-risk and underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas. [CDC]
- Announced $29 million to bolster research and outreach to help strengthen COVID-19 vaccine confidence and access, as well as testing and treatment, in communities of color. [National Institutes of Health (NIH)]
- Provided weekly COVID-19 information to diverse communities, developed and translated materials to help consumers make informed decisions about their health, and assisted in the planning and implementation of listening sessions with minority health and other diverse organizations to update them on FDA’s COVID-19 activities and to learn more about the needs of minority communities. [Food and Drug Administration (FDA)]
Improving Maternal Health Crisis
Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause than White women. A third of maternal deaths occur between one week to a year after childbirth. To mitigate this reality, the Biden-Harris Administration has implemented policies to protect vulnerable mothers.
- Approved state proposals to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage for mothers following delivery for the first time in the history of the program in five states: Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Virginia, and New Jersey. Virginia, Illinois, and New Jersey now provide 12-month postpartum coverage. [CMS]
- Made $12 million available for the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies program that tests models addressing the unmet needs of rural moms. [HRSA]
- Created a new measure in Medicare that will encourage hospitals to standardize protocols addressing obstetric emergencies and complications arising during pregnancy. [CMS]
- Awarded nearly $350 million investment to expand home visiting services to families most in need, increase access to doulas, address disparities in infant death rates and improve data reporting on maternal mortality. [HRSA]
- Announced plans to create a new “Birthing Friendly” hospital designation, which would be the first-ever hospital quality designation by HHS specifically focused on maternity care. [CMS]
Diversifying the Health Workforce
- Distributed $73 million to minority-serving institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other and other institutions of higher education to strengthen public health information technology (IT) efforts, improve COVID-19 data collection, and grow the public health IT workforce, by increasing minority representation in the public health IT workforce. [Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)]
- Provided $1 billion to support the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps to improve the nation's health equity by connecting skilled, committed providers with communities in need of care, including Black communities. Through these Loan Repayment and scholarship programs, more than 22,700 clinicians are treating more than 23.6 million patients in underserved communities. [HRSA]
- Funded the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program to expand training and residency programs in health centers and other community-based settings focused on producing physicians and dentists who will practice in underserved communities after completing their residencies. [HRSA]
Supporting Voting Rights
- Launching a new voting access hub to connect older adults and people with disabilities to information, tools and resources to help them understand and exercise their right to vote. [Administration for Community Living (ACL)]
- Offering its patients assistance with voter registration. [Indian Health Service (IHS)]
- Making it easier for consumers using HealthCare.gov to connect to voter registration services and receive assistance. CMS will also work with states on improving access to voter registration. [CMS]
Advancing Health Equity and Diversity
- Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is the first Black woman to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and pledged to advance health equity for all Americans through Medicare, Medicaid, and the health insurance Marketplace.
- HHS Operating Divisions have renewed focus on health equity across the entire Department, including improving data collection and examining policy solutions to address structural barriers within health care and health care systems, including government programs.
- HHS is committed to engaging and including communities in our work to understand how to best meet the needs of diverse populations through grants, initiatives, and funding.
- Almost 21% of the permanent workforce (80,000) at HHS are Black, contributing to the Department’s mission to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans. [HHS]