WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the John Lewis National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Endowment Revitalization Act. Introduced to the Senate by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), the legislation would increase investments in universities conducting critical research into minority health disparities. Cassidy’s bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in April and now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“The legislation increases investment in schools conducting critical research into health disparities among minorities. This is the data we need to move forward with solutions we know will work to improve health outcomes in underserved communities,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Universities like Xavier in Louisiana are doing important research in this area. Now, Xavier’s program and programs across the nation can continue research for years to come.”
“Communities of color have been hit hardest by the pandemic, but these health disparities existed long before this current crisis. Our legislation, which is now set to become law, will support institutions that are doing the hard work to build a diverse workforce and better understand how to close these health gaps,” said Senator Schatz.
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.
Last week during a Senate HELP subcommittee hearing, Cassidy and Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University, discussed the legislation and importance of recruiting a larger and more diverse health care workforce. Watch the exchange here.
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.