We were pleased to see that Chelsea’s newly-elected State Representative, Judith Garcia, announced last week that she has co-sponsored An Act to Advance Health Equity, a bill that aims to close the gap in healthcare by prioritizing equity in state government, regulating data reporting on health equity, and improving access to and the quality of healthcare for historically-disadvantaged communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought into stark contrast the disparity in outcomes between those in our society who have good health care options vs. those who do not. The COVID-19 death rates in poorer communities far exceeded those in wealthier communities (which is typical for just about every disease and illness known to man).
Based on a data analysis of more than 3,000 counties across the US, Americans in poorer counties died at almost twice the rate of those in wealthier counties at the start of the pandemic. That dichotomy became even more pronounced in the later waves of the pandemic, when death rates in economically-disadvantaged counties were three and four times the rates of more-affluent counties.
But those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to healthcare should not be deluded into thinking that this is “someone else’s” problem. The COVID-19 pandemic proved conclusively that what happens anywhere can have serious implications everywhere.
Communicable diseases are “communicable” because they spread and, as we learned from COVID-19, viruses do not discriminate between rich and poor. Persons in wealthier communities overall may have had better outcomes because of better access to healthcare, but when viruses spread rapidly through communities without good healthcare options, it is inevitable that all of us are affected (and infected).
The simple point we’re trying to make is that in our interconnected world in which we rely on each other for everything, it is to the advantage of everyone to make sure that every member of our society has access to quality healthcare.
This is both a moral imperative and a common-sense goal that benefits every member of society.
We applaud Rep. Garcia for sponsoring this bill and we urge the legislature to pass it forthwith.