Social and economic factors play a big role in health disparities in the United States. A health disparity is when a health condition, like asthma, affects one group of people differently than another group. In the U.S., Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous people carry the greatest asthma burden. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) “Asthma Disparities in America” report looks at these differences.
Social Determinants of Health
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are factors that can have a big impact on people and their communities. These factors can affect how people control their asthma or gain access to health care. Inequities in SDOH are key drivers in asthma disparities, especially among Black Americans.
Local and federal policies and programs can affect these factors. They can create barriers to health care, such as:
- Access to health care
- Food insecurity
- Quality of housing
- Access to job and educational opportunities
- Access to technology, such as the internet
- Access to transportation
Once again, COVID-19 is a reminder of how large these disparities are. Currently, the COVID death rate of Black Americans is 1.5 times that of white people.
The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021
Congress recently reintroduced “The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021 (S. 104/H.R. 379).” It is a major step toward addressing inequities in SDOH.
If passed, this bill would empower the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a program to:
- Improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities
- Help public health and community organizations address SDOH
The CDC’s program would then:
- Ensure programs consider SDOH
- Give grants to agencies and group to address SDOH in target communities
- Give grants to nonprofits and universities to research SDOH best practices
- Work with other federal agencies on SDOH activities
- Collect and review data on SDOH activities
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) supports this law and the need for health equity now. AAFA is working closely with patient groups and lawmakers to build support for this bill. Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA) is a lead co-sponsor of the bill and is also a member of the House Asthma and Allergy Caucus.
You can help make a difference.
Join us in demanding #HealthEquityNOW. Sign up for AAFA’s online community to become an advocate for change or to be a patient spokesperson. We’ll also let you know about opportunities to contact your lawmakers to ask them to support “The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021.”