April 14, 2021

Cassidy, Schatz Bill to Fund Research of Minority Health Disparities Passes House

WASHINGTON  A bill from U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), the John Lewis National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Endowment Revitalization Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. Introduced in February, the legislation would increase investments in schools conducting critical research into minority health disparities. The bill passed the U.S. Senate in March.

“Passing this bill increases investment in schools conducting critical research into health disparities among minorities,” said Dr. Cassidy. “In Louisiana, universities like Xavier are doing great research and this legislation supports their efforts to improve health outcomes in underserved communities.”

“Communities of color are being hit hardest by the pandemic, but these health disparities existed long before this current crisis,” said Senator Schatz. “We need to support institutions that are doing the hard work to build a diverse workforce and better understand how to close these health disparities.”

The John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act was introduced by the late-Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in the 116th Congress. The bill would ensure the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) continues to provide grants for critical research into minority health disparities. The Research Endowment Program at NIMHD provides funding to the endowments of academic institutions across the country, such as Xavier University of Louisiana, College of Pharmacy. 

The goals of NIMHD’s Research Endowment Program include: 

  • Promoting minority health and health disparities research capacity and infrastructure
  • Increasing the diversity and strength of the scientific workforce
  • Enhancing the recruitment and retention of individuals from health disparity populations that are underrepresented in the scientific workforce

Funding shortfalls combined with an arbitrary limit placed on program participation have threatened to essentially shut down the NIMHD Research Endowment Program. The changes provided in this bill would reinvigorate the NIMHD program to ensure that minority-serving institutions like Xavier continue to benefit. 

U.S. Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) and Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.