H.1517 and the Office of Health Equity
In January 2011, State Representatives Jeffrey Sanchez and Byron Rushing introduced bill H.1517 to the General Court of Massachusetts. Bill H.1517 would establish an Office of Health Equity in the Office of Health and Human Services. The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health in February 2011.
Functions of the Office of Health Equity
The proposed Office of Health Equity (OHE) would deal with the many issues that impact health outcomes and cause health disparities by1:
- coordinating and monitoring Department of Public Health (DPH) activities regarding disease prevention, health promotion, service delivery, and research concerning racial and ethnic minority populations
- participating in decision making and policy development regarding priority areas for the DPH
- providing assistance to the DPH and the community on data about the health status of racial/ethnic minority populations
- serving as an active link between the DPH and racial/ethnic minority communities
Why is an Office of Health Equity Necessary?
To make gains that are both substantive and sustainable toward the elimination of health disparities will require political will and coordinated oversight, which the Office of Health Equity is uniquely positioned to provide. The proposed OHE would create a permanent place in state government to spearhead efforts to eliminate health disparities in the Commonwealth. The OHE would fill an important and currently unfulfilled role in coordinating statewide efforts and evaluating state progress in eliminating health disparities to improve public health statewide.
Advocacy Opportunity: Tell your Rep. to Address Health Disparities in MA
Your Representative needs to hear from you! Visit the Student Chapter Toolkit’s Advocacy page  for more information about how to:
- Call your representative
- Write a letter
- Attend a district meeting or public hearing
As a health professional student, your support is essential in the effort to eliminate health disparities. Make sure your voice is heard!