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Sen. Gillibrand Unveils Health Equity Innovation Act in Rochester


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at Greater Harvest Church in Rochester on Wednesday to announce her Health Equity Innovation Act, legislation to fight racial disparities in health outcomes by expanding access to preventative health care in underserved communities. The bill would establish a new grant program to provide federal funding to faith- and community-based organizations located in medically underserved areas like much of Rochester. Grants would help cover the cost of providing preventative care – including free or low-cost health screenings, vaccinations, family planning services, and mental health services – hiring community health workers, and expanding capacity. Gillibrand is calling for $50 million for this program to be included in the Fiscal Year 2025 government funding bill.

“Astronomical health care costs and a chronic shortage of health care providers in Black communities mean that too many Black New Yorkers have difficulty getting routine checkups, vaccinations, and other critical preventative care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Partnerships between organizations like Common Ground Health and Greater Harvest Church can fill these gaps. By connecting residents with accessible and affordable services, they are building healthier communities and helping to end racial disparities in health outcomes. I’m introducing the Health Equity Innovation Act to make sure faith- and community-based organizations have the funding they need to continue doing this important work, and I look forward to getting this bill passed.”

Gillibrand said Black Americans suffer disproportionately from a variety of health conditions, including asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts, and the Black infant mortality rate is higher than that of any other group. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, Black individuals were hospitalized and died at higher rates than white Americans. These disparities are caused in part by a longstanding lack of access to high-quality health care in Black communities.

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