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Congresswoman Waters Commemorates Minority Health Month

April 1, 2015
Press Release


Congresswoman Waters Commemorates Minority Health Month


April 1, 2015


Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement in recognition of Minority Health Month:

"This April, as we commemorate Minority Health Month, we have an opportunity to raise awareness of the health disparities that exist for racial and ethnic minorities. While we face numerous issues, none is more important than the health of the people we serve.

Studies continue to show that race and ethnicity correlate with persistent, and often increasing, health disparities in the United States. Historically, this has been caused by a lack of access to health care, health insurance and health providers. Laws like the Affordable Care Act have opened up avenues of access for millions of Americans while simultaneously working to close the gap. Nevertheless, race and other social factors including one's education, economic stability and neighborhood all affect the quality of one's health.  Ultimately, this means that, all too often, minorities experience illness and death more frequently than the U.S. population as a whole. That fact is both alarming and inhumane and deserves urgent attention.

That is why, over the years I have focused on doing everything I can to help eliminate the health disparities for all people in this country, including minorities, especially in the areas of HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes, diseases that have disproportionately impacted minority communities for decades. In 1998, I started the Minority AIDS Initiative to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities and have led the fight for robust funding for this program every year since. The initiative has expanded access to HIV/AIDS prevention, screening and treatment in minority communities. But we still have a long ways to go before we can say we have stopped the spread of HIV and enabled all who are infected to receive treatment.

Additionally, for the past several years, I have taken this same approach to the fight against diabetes by introducing the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act, which would provide grants to physicians and community?based organizations for diabetes prevention, care, and treatment programs in minority communities.

In the past, I have also introduced the Cancer TEST Act which would provide grants for cancer screening, counseling, treatment and prevention programs for minorities and underserved communities. Currently, African American women continue to die from breast cancer at a rate higher than any other ethnic or gender group in the country. The bill would make grants available to community health centers and non-profit organizations that serve minority and underserved populations and would emphasize early detection and provide comprehensive treatment for cancer in its earliest stages, when treatment is most likely to save lives and hopefully prevent the untimely deaths of many of these women in our black community.    


I have also worked closely with my colleagues to protect, expand and improve health programs that serve people who would otherwise have no access to quality health care. I have fought to prevent cuts to Medicaid and supported the expansion of Community Health Centers, which serve thousands of low-income patients in my district and millions across the United States.

While there is still much work to be done in these areas and countless other health issues, I have found that developing legislation and action plans such as these can have a profound effect on increasing the quality and duration of life for minorities, thereby expanding the number of healthy people living in our communities. Essentially, when Congress acts, improvements can be made.  I look forward to working this month and for the duration of my time in Congress to eliminate the minority health disparities that needlessly and unjustly jeopardize the quality of life for so many."