Underwood Addresses Coronavirus Health Disparities in Educational and Labor Virtual Hearing

June 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Yesterday, in a Committee on Education and Labor virtual hearing, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) addressed the comparatively worse coronavirus-related health outcomes experienced by communities of color. Black Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 are dying at 5 times the rate of their white counterparts, and the disparities are even larger for younger adults. During the hearing, Underwood questioned witnesses on steps the federal government should take to address racial gaps in both COVID-19 outcomes and other health issues, including maternal mortality. Additionally, Underwood emphasized the urgent need to expand access to quality, affordable health care to reduce disparities in health outcomes.   

“The pandemic inside this pandemic is the disproportionate health and economic consequences of the virus for communities of color, particularly Black Americans. These racial gaps are glaring but not surprising: they reflect deeply entrenched racial inequities throughout our health care system. To reduce disparities in health outcomes– for both COVID-19 and other conditions—we must expand access to affordable health care,” said Underwood. 

Full video of Underwood’s remarks can be found here.

In Congress, Underwood has championed several bills to strengthen our current health care system by reducing the cost of care. In March 2019, Underwood introduced the Health Care Affordability Act to reduce premiums for consumers who purchase plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Health Care Affordability Act (H.R. 1868) would expand tax credits to people who don’t currently qualify for them because their income is higher than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, and would increase the size of the tax credit for all income brackets.  In May 2019, legislation Underwood introduced to help protect Americans with preexisting conditions passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, H.R. 1010, would overturn an Administration rule that expands short-term, limited-duration insurance, commonly known as “junk plans.” Underwood introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (H.R. 6142) in March 2020 to address racial disparities in maternal health outcomes.  

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