Oregon bill declaring racism ‘a public health crisis’ heads to governor’s office for signature

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On Saturday, Oregon’s Health Equity Task Force announced that a bill declaring racism a public health crisis in the state had passed through both legislative houses and was heading to the office of Governor Kate Brown for signature.

House Bill 4052, titled: “An Act relating to fairness; and declaring an emergency”, requires that “the Oregon Health Authority, guided by an advisory committee to be convened by the authority, provides grants to operate two culturally and linguistically specific mobile health units, as a pilot program, to improve health outcomes for Oregonians impacted by racism.”

The bill states that the Oregon Health Authority must establish an advisory committee that will provide advice on “establishing, funding, and operating a pilot program to improve health outcomes for affected Oregonians.” by racism by providing grants to one or more entities to operate two linguistically specific cultures and mobile health units in this state”, the members of this committee being composed of people from priority populations, public health professionals and health, and at least 51% of the committee with decision-making power must be members of these priority populations.

Priority populations are defined as “groups who suffer disproportionately from preventable disease, death or other health or social problems attributable directly or indirectly to racism”, which includes communities of color, indigenous tribes , immigrants, low-income families, etc.

The pilot program will administer grants only to entities that demonstrate their ability to serve these priority populations, their ability to “conduct meaningful community engagement,” and “have a prior established relationship with one or more priority populations.”

Pilot health units that receive grants will be required to “engage in an assessment of populations served by race, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to inform potential expansion of the pilot program nationwide. the state”.

The authority will be required to submit an interim report to the Legislative Assembly no later than December 31, 2025 and a final report no later than June 30, 2026 on the implementation of these pilot programs and the findings of the study.

The bill states that “the Oregon Office of Defense Commissions, in conjunction with culturally specific community organizations, will convene affinity group task forces comprised of leaders from Black and Indigenous communities, people of color and members of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon.”

These working groups will study the specific needs of the communities they represent and develop recommendations for the allocation of resources to address the concerns of these communities. These recommendations will be required before June 30, 2023.

Based on the research and recommendations of these task forces, the Oregon Health Authority will develop its own recommendations on how to fund “culturally and linguistically sound intervention programs, across all relevant state agencies.” , designed to prevent or intervene in health conditions that result in inequitable and negative outcomes for Black or Indigenous people, people of color and Tribal people.”

Recommendations must be delivered to the Legislative Assembly by November 1, 2023, with final recommendations due November 1 of the following year.

The bill states that the general fund appropriation to the Oregon Health Authority “for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, for health systems, health policy and analysis, and public health , is increased by $1,595,073 for the purposes of carrying out section 1 of that Act of 2022.”

It also states that the maximum limits for payment of expenses from federal funds are increased for the same period by $344,663 for the same purpose.

The bill stipulates that it will come into force upon its adoption. The first section of the act will be repealed on January 2, 2027 and the second section will be repealed on January 2, 2025.

“Thank you to the hundreds of organizations and individuals who rolled up their sleeves, endorsed the bill, contacted their legislators, provided testimonials and the many other ways a small group of people have come together to make a difference now. and for the future,” the Oregon Public Health Association, which convenes Oregon’s Health Equity Task Force and crafted the bill, wrote on Twitter.

HB 4052 “acknowledges that the very founding of Oregon as a state was rooted in racist ideals, and while black exclusion laws are no longer on the books, the detrimental impact of these policies and “Other racist policies continue to exist in our current policies and systems. Perpetuate health disparities. HB 4052 calls for accelerated and intentional actions to address these injustices and articulates strategies and investments to address health inequities. healthcare,” the OPHA website states.

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