Empowerment Goal: Health- Every American has Access to Quality and Affordable Health Care Solutions
Disparities in healthcare cost our nation billions of dollars in lost economic activity. This cost is borne overwhelmingly by African-Americans in higher health care spending, and, tragically, significantly higher levels of illness, disability, and death.
In 2012 the National Urban League issued a landmark report, The State of Urban Health, that underscores the tragic reality that health disparities among African-Americans don’t just carry a human cost in higher levels of illness, disability, and death; it heaps a financial burden on families still trying to recover from the Great Recession.
The National Urban League believes that improving health outcomes is a vital component to building economic empowerment. Healthy individuals live longer and have a better quality of life; and this directly benefits their families, communities and ultimately the nation. The National Urban League Washington Bureau is charged with engaging in health policy, research and advocacy to advance our 2025 empowerment goal that Every American has access to quality and affordable health care solutions.
To this end the Urban League movement has been a driving force in the reduction of health disparities, providing free health services to over 6 million people since 2004. Through Project Wellness, the National Urban League’s signature health program, Urban League affiliates are providing low-income, underserved communities with free chronic disease prevention and management training, access to medical screenings, health and wellness services, as well as access to affordable health care coverage.
We focus our health policy work on the following areas:
Full and timely implementation of the historic Affordable Care Act
Providing access to quality and affordable health care for all, promoting community-based prevention efforts, and expanding Medicaid to our most vulnerable citizens, the ACA will play a pivotal role in reducing the human cost of these disparities.
We also urge the federal government to work to incentivize Medicaid expansion to every state and we stand ready to educate voters and advocate in the states to ensure that the Affordable Care Act is implemented with Medicaid expansion intact.
Eliminate Health Disparities
The elimination of health disparities is a moral and economic issue for our nation. Health disparities create an economic burden on society and African Americans bear the largest portion of these costs. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which NUL strongly supported, will help address health disparities.
And in the 114th congress the National Urban League has been appointed by Representative Robin Kelly(D-IL), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Health Braintrust, to serve as the lead organization coordinating the efforts of the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) community working group. This coalition is comprised of over 300 national, state and local stakeholders will advise the “Congressional TriCaucus” as it is collectively known, on signature health equity legislation which will be introduced in the spring of 2016 under Representative Kelly’s leadership.
Develop a Diverse and Culturally Competent Health Workforce
By 2050, people of color are projected to account for a majority of the U.S. population. Preparing a workforce that can communicate effectively with diverse populations is important to ensure better health outcomes and to eliminate health disparities. Growing the number of community health workers and building cultural competency across the health workforce will help ready the nation for the demographic shifts.
Prevent Hunger and Increase Access to Healthy Foods
Food insecurity and the inability to access healthy food options affect health outcomes. African Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty and food insecurity and are more likely to be overweight or obese, as compared to other populations. NUL supports SNAP and other programs that help families access food and is developing policy solutions and community interventions that create healthy environments for communities of color.