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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 26, 2022 01:54 PM
From: Senator Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Codifying the Office of Health Equity
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to codify the existing Office of Health Equity in Pennsylvania.
Every day, we hear from constituents in conditions that are harmful to their health and well-being, many conditions preventable by simple fixes in the system. Worse, we know these are just examples of a system where something is broken. Statistics show patterns of health disparities in Pennsylvania and point to issues that must be resolved:
  • Access to health care and telehealth
  • Affordability of health care
  • Health care professionals that represent patients
  • Maternal mortality   
Health equity is defined as every person having an opportunity to live a healthy life, regardless of race, color, religion, ability, sexual orientation or gender identity. To understand how we measure with health equity, we need health and environmental data to determine the conditions negatively impacting the health and well-being of groups and regions across the Commonwealth. The Office of Health Equity identifies disparities or avoidable differences among socioeconomic and demographic groups or geographical areas in health status and health outcomes such as disease, disability or mortality. Created in 2007 by executive order, the Office of Health Equity has been maintained by both Republican and Democratic administrations and continues to operate as an integral part of the Department of Health today. Through data analysis, collaboration and advocacy, the Office examines the health of the Commonwealth and provides practical guidance for policymakers to address common and preventable gaps and achieve optimal health outcomes in all Pennsylvania communities.
Codifying the Office of Health Equity in statute will preserve and amplify the Office’s critical role in understanding the health and wellness of Pennsylvania communities and developing policies to improve access to services. A statute also will assist the Department of Health to streamline funding for stable operations so the Office may continue advising the Department on measures to prevent our constituents from needlessly falling through the cracks of the healthcare system.
All Pennsylvanians should have the ability to live a healthy life, and the Commonwealth needs the ability to see where we must do better. Please join me in sponsoring this resolution. 

Introduced as SB1267