May 3, 2002

Minority Health Care Bill Passes House

Watts resolution raises awareness of national crisis

WASHINGTON – A resolution raising the level of awareness on the disparity of health care between members of minority communities and other Americans passed the House of Representatives today. House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts, Jr. (R-Okla.), sponsor of the legislation, made the following statement:

“Mister Speaker, I rise to support an increased awareness of a very serious problem in our nation today.

“Despite so much progress in the field of medicine, there is a significant discrepancy in the health of ethnic minorities compared to the rest of our American population. This silent reality should spur more than indignation. The facts and statistics that make up this crisis must be a wake-up call to all of us, regardless of the color of our skin.

“The resolution before the House today aims to raise the level of awareness to the disparity of health care concerning members of minority communities. It calls for a dedicated month of minority health care recognition, urges the secretary of Health and Human Services to develop public service announcements on health promotion and disease prevention among minorities, requests the president to issue a proclamation on minority health care and encourages better use of data and statistics in order to help eliminate health disparities.

“Hispanics, black Americans, Indians and other members of racial minorities have had higher levels of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and infant mortality. This is more than a misfortune. It is a systemic emergency that we must view as a call to action.

“Hippocrates recognized the importance of quality health care over twenty four hundred years ago when he said: ‘A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings.’

“Let us make sure that all Americans have access to the care they need to sustain a healthy life. I thank the delegate from the Virgin Islands for sponsoring this resolution with me and urge my colleagues to support our legislation to increase the level of attention America pays to minority health disparities. With a heightened level of awareness, we can make our country a healthier nation and better the lives of all her citizens.”

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