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Why Strong Health Care Policies in Reconciliation Are Necessary to Advancing Racial Equity

By Eliot Fishman,


In the wake of a pandemic that has exposed the many underlying structural failures in America’s health care system and a national awakening around racial justice, President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have rightfully put equity at the center of their legislative agenda. Key to fulfilling this promise of equity is inclusion of the most robust version of the health care policies as part of the Build Back Better Act.

These priorities, working in concert as an interrelated set of policies, will make the structural changes that begin to remedy longstanding and deep inequities in the health care system. As negotiations continue, Congress must ensure each of the following priorities are addressed in the Build Back Better legislation:

  • Finally stopping prescription drug pricing abuses.
  • Extending the Medicare benefit to cover oral health care, as well as vision and hearing services.
  • Providing federal coverage for people in the “coverage gap” who live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Improving the affordability of plans in the health insurance Marketplaces.
  • Substantially improving coverage and community-based care delivery for pregnant and postpartum women.
  • Expanding access to home and community-based services for seniors and people with disabilities while paying fair wages to home care workers.