A Health Equity Legislative Road Map

This guest post is written by Aldon Hynes

Hartford, ConnecticutEvery year, members of the Connecticut Health Foundation’s Health Leaders Fellows Program break into small groups to work on a project related to health disparities.  One of the 2013 projects was to establish a health equity legislative road map, which HealthJusticeCT has agreed to share online.

Aldon Hynes, Atique Mirza, Tyra Pendergrass and Erika Ulanecki worked on institutionalizing conversations about health equity into the state’s legislative process.  Every bill has a potential impact on health equity in our state and we want our state legislators to consider this impact when drafting, debating and voting on bills.

Two key interlinked aspects of this are establishing a health equity caucus in the State Legislature and implementing health equity impact statements, similar to financial or environmental impact statements.  Both goals were clearly beyond the scope of a fellowship coalition project, so we focused on laying the groundwork to reach such goals, including talking with key parties and establishing a road map towards these longer term goals.

The webpage describes the road map, the context, and what we hope are the next steps.

Three key parties we addressed were legislators, advocates and the broader community.  With the legislative process, we looked at what was involved in establishing an Asian Pacific caucus which then worked to address issues of concern to the Asian Pacific community.  This involved talking to various legislators about the importance of a health equity caucus and health equity impact statements.  It is our hope that this road map will encourage further discussions with state legislatures encouraging them to form a health equity caucus to assure that health equity concerns will become an ongoing part of all discussions about upcoming legislation.

Within the advocacy community, we were concerned that various organizations are not working together as effectively as we would hope.  It appears as if the Commission on Health Equity, Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership,  and the Connecticut Health Foundation are the three key players to work together to increase the discussions about health equity in the legislative process.  There is already considerable overlap in membership of these three organizations which should facilitate increased collaboration.  We look forward ongoing discussions on this.

We also began discussions with various CT Health Foundation Grantees.  We are particularly pleased that HealthJusticeCT has agreed to host this road map.

A few things that we encourage every to do include:

The third key party we focused on was the broader community.  When reaching out to members of the broader community, it is important to have very specific goals and it is hoped that discussions on the LinkedIn Group and the Google Group will facilitate leaders in reaching out to this broader community.

As discussions about health equity become more prevalent in the legislative process, we will then get to a point where legislators can be encourage to form a health equity caucus and institutionalize discussions about health equity in the legislative process.

Aldon Hynes is a social media manager at the Community Health Center, Inc.  He has been using media socially since he shared his coloring books in kindergarten. Since then, he has helped politicians, non-profits, corporations and others use online social media tell their story online. Connect with Aldon on Twitter.

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