February 25, 2021

Cassidy, Schatz Introduce Legislation to Fund Research of Minority Health Disparities

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the John Lewis National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Endowment Revitalization Act to the U.S. Senate. The legislation would increase investments in schools conducting critical research into minority health disparities.

“As a doctor who worked in Louisiana’s charity hospital system and now a senator, providing quality health care to underserved communities is a priority,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Universities like Xavier in Louisiana are doing great research to address minority health disparities. This legislation supports their efforts.”

“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.”

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

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 allow the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to resume providing 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

Because of funding shortfalls, those endowment grants began to slow and schools that had received NIMHD grants for 10 years were no longer eligible. As a result, the critical research being done at these institutions was underfunded. This bill allows those school to resume their eligibility.