Today, Secretary Xavier Becerra released the following statement in honor of Black History Month, along with a fact sheet detailing the actions the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken to advance health equity and improve health outcomes for Black communities:
“Black History Month is a time to recognize the extraordinary contributions of Black Americans in every corner of our society – from poets and artists, to educators and entrepreneurs, to scientists and doctors, to the frontline workers and researchers protecting us during this pandemic. It is also a time to recommit ourselves to racial equity and justice. At HHS, we are tackling health disparities and keeping equity at the core of everything we do, which means improving health outcomes for Black Americans and other communities.
“We have worked to alleviate the disproportionate burden of the pandemic on Black Americans by investing billions in COVID-19 vaccination and testing, support for health care workers, and targeted outreach and education initiatives. We have also taken unprecedented action to improve Black maternal health by implementing new policies and funding to ensure safer pregnancies and postpartum services for new parents and their babies.
“In addition, we have made health care more affordable and accessible for Black families across the country. During the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, more than 2.8 million Americans signed up for new health insurance, and among those who reported their race, 15 percent of the enrollees were Black, up from 9 percent in 2019. And thanks to the Administration’s American Rescue Plan, many saw their health insurance premiums lowered or eliminated during the 2022 Open Enrollment Period, where four out of five consumers could find a plan for $10 or less per month with this newly expanded financial assistance.
“At HHS, we are proud to have many Black leaders who are making history in their roles, such as Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Assistant Secretary Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Assistant Secretary Loyce Pace at the Office of Global Affairs, Assistant Secretary Cheryl Campbell at the Office of Administration, and Director Marvin Figueroa at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs. They are not only respected leaders in their fields but also role models for us all. I am fortunate to work alongside such top-notch professionals at HHS, where we are 90,000-strong, with a permanent workforce of 80,000 that is 21 percent Black. That is worth celebrating.
“Our work is far from finished. From reducing the cost of health care, to strengthening behavioral health services, and everything in between, we must continue to advance the health and well-being of all Americans, including Black Americans.”