Louisiana U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Republican and a Democrat, saw a problem and worked to fix it.
With Cassidy invoking his experience as a physician in Louisiana’s charity system — and with people all over the country having witnessed the more severe impact the coronavirus pandemic had on people of color — the bill drew widespread support across party lines. Signed last week by President Joe Biden, the John Lewis National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Endowment Revitalization Act will now give a number of research institutions more resources to identify and help close persistent health gaps.
The act also had bipartisan support in the House, where it was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., and U.S. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif.
The new law, named for the late U.S. Rep. and civil rights icon, makes sure that NIMHD’s Research Endowment Program funds health disparity research at institutions across the country, including Dillard University and Xavier University’s College of Pharmacy in New Orleans. The program will help these and other institutions that have had difficulty getting federal funding in recent years to enhance infrastructure, increase workforce diversity and recruit and retain people who have traditionally been underrepresented in health and science professions.
That’ll be good for the health of our citizens, particularly in states like Louisiana with sizable Black populations and other populations of color. And with all that’s ailing Washington these days, the bipartisan effort isn’t bad for the health of our democracy.