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PHI Letter in Support of Fully Funding Programs that Address Health Disparities in the FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Educations Appropriations Bill


July 18, 2017

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House
Washington, DC 20515                   

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Lowey:


On behalf of the Public Health Institute (PHI)a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people across the nation and around the world—I write to urge your support to fully fund programs that address health disparities in the FY2018 Labor-HHS-Educations Appropriations Bill. In particular, I urge you to fully fund the nation’s only community-based program working to tackle racial and ethnic health disparities, the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program at $50.95 million.


These investments are more important than ever. Addressing health disparities helps reduce the nation’s health care costs: the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies estimates that eliminating health disparities would reduce direct medical expenditures by nearly $230 billion. Yet health disparities continue to widen, and racial and ethnic communities, low-income Americans and tribal communities disproportionately feel the burden of disease. For example: African Americans are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure than Non-Hispanic Whites and have the highest rates of obesity (44%); the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 18% higher among Asian Americans, 66% higher among Hispanic/Latinos, and 77% higher among African Americans compared to non-Hispanic whites; and American Indians and Alaskan Natives are 60% more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites.


The 49 REACH grantees nationwide, ranging from state and local health departments to universities and community based organizations, identify, develop, and disseminate effective strategies for addressing health disparities. They impact a wide range of health priority areas including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, infant mortality, asthma, immunization, and obesity among African Americans, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and others.


PHI also urges that you fully fund investments in other programs and agencies that work to build equity and address critical health disparities in our communities, including: HHS Office of Minority Health, the Health Careers Opportunities Program (HCOP), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Centers of Excellence (COE), HHS Office of Minority HIV/AIDS, the Nursing Workforce Diversity Program, and HIV/AIDS initiatives at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


I appreciate your consideration of this request.



Matthew Marsom
Vice President for Public Policy & Programs
Public Health Institute