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Local News

Underwood: Health care expansion needed to address racial disparities

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, speaks to an editorial board on Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2019 at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, speaks to an editorial board on Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2019 at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

During a House Committee on Education and Labor hearing this week, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood addressed how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hurt people of color, especially African Americans.

Underwood's office said in a news release that African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 are dying at five times the rate of their white counterparts, and the disparities are even larger among younger adults.

During the hearing, Underwood questioned witnesses about what the federal government was doing to address the inequalities in the pandemic's effects on Americans. Underwood called the disparities African American experience "the pandemic inside this pandemic."

"These racial gaps are glaring but not surprising: they reflect deeply entrenched racial inequities throughout our health care system," Underwood, D-Naperville, said, according to the release. "To reduce disparities in health outcomes – for both COVID-19 and other conditions – we must expand access to affordable health care."

Throughout her time in Congress, Underwood has pushed multiple bills to change the U.S. health care system, including a bill aiming to improve maternal health outcomes among African American mothers.

Just this week, House Democrats unveiled legislation to enhance the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare." The legislation includes Underwood's proposal to expand eligibility for premium tax credits to more families and increase the size of the credit for all income brackets.

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