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MEDIA ADVISORY: HELP Committee to Hold Hearing on the Shortage of Minority Health Care Providers

WASHINGTON, May 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Thursday, May 2 at 10:00 a.m. ET will lead the committee in a hearing titled, “What Can Congress Do to Address the Severe Shortage of Minority Health Care Professionals and the Maternal Health Crisis?”

“No one disputes that we have a massive shortage of doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health professionals, pharmacists and health care workers throughout America,” Sanders said. “This shortage is particularly acute in Black and Latino communities. We also have an alarming rate of maternal deaths in America that is disproportionately impacting Black women. That should not be happening in the richest country in the history of the world. It is long past time for the United States Congress to seriously address these major crises.”

According to the latest figures from the US Census Bureau, Black Americans make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but comprise just 5 percent of all physicians, 6.3 percent of nurses, 3.8 percent of dentists, 9.6 percent of pharmacists, 4.5 percent of physician assistants, and 7 percent of certified nurse-midwives. Latinos make up 19.1 percent of the U.S. population, but comprise just 5.8 percent of all physicians, 6.9 percent of nurses, 5.9 percent of dentists, 6.4 percent of pharmacists, 7.3 percent of physician assistants, less than 8 percent of all maternal health physicians, and less than 15 percent of maternal health registered nurses.

Diversity and representation in the workforce is critical to improving patient access to care, perception of the care they receive, and overall health outcomes. Studies show that when Black and Latino patients are treated by Black and Latino doctors, they report higher satisfaction with their care, have a better relationship with their provider, and are more likely to receive preventative and follow up services. Studies also show that health care providers from communities of color are more likely to practice in high-need specialties and in underserved communities.

Congress must also address the maternal health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Further, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Black infants are almost four times more likely to die from complications due to low birthweight than white infants.

What: Senate HELP Committee Hearing titled, “What Can Congress Do to Address the Severe Shortage of Minority Health Care Professionals and the Maternal Health Crisis?”
When: Thursday, May 2, 10:00 a.m. ET
Where: Room 430, Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing will also be livestreamed on the HELP Committee’s website.

Panel I
Hon. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), United States Senator
Hon. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Texas), United States Representative 

Panel II
Yolanda Lawson, MD, President, National Medical Association
Samuel Cook, MD, Resident, Morehouse School of Medicine
Michael Galvez, MD, Valley Children's Hospital; Co-Creator of National Latino Physician Day
Jaines Andrades, DNP, AGACNP-BC, Nurse Practicioner, Baystate Health
Brian Stone, MD, FACS, President, Jasper Urology Associates