Two freshmen Democrats representing Central Florida in Congress–U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Darren Soto–are backing a proposal to provide more funds to support health-care for underserved women, including providing additional taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood.
At the start of the month, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., brought out the “Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act” which was named after a former Hill staffer and White House intern who died last year due to cervical cancer. According to Soto’s office, the bill “would create new grants to expand preventative health care services, improve specialty training for treating low-income and women of color, and require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct research to better understand and address the health care needs of women across the country.”
Demings and Soto are original cosponsors. Seven other cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., have signed on since the bill was introduced. Gomez and Soto held a meeting on the bill last week which included Planned Parenthood, the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Human Rights Watch.
On Monday, Gomez, Soto and Demings tried to rally more support for the bill as they showcased it.
“Despite the progress made by the Affordable Care Act to address our country’s glaring health care gap, far too many women of color and those battling poverty still face obstacles in accessing quality prevention health services,” said Gomez. “Not only would the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act help local safety net providers like Planned Parenthood alleviate such disparities, but it would also ensure the most vulnerable among us have access to life-saving cancer screenings and critical education resources. I can’t think of a better way to honor Jeanette’s memory than helping secure healthy outcomes for generations of women in rural and underserved communities across America.”
“One of the main factors that contributes to the higher cancer death rates among women, in particular women of color, is access to early detection screenings and treatment,” said Soto. “We can and must reverse this trend. That’s why I joined colleagues in supporting the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act and urge the House to pass this bill. This legislation increases funding for health-care providers to expand access to preventive cancer screenings, ultimately helping to save lives.”
“Cancer does not discriminate based on gender, race, or income, but access to preventative care, screenings, and early interventions is another story,” said Demings. “The Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act would help close this gap and increase access to life-saving care, particularly for low-income women and women of color. Dr. King said that ‘of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.’ I call on my colleagues to pass this bill and fund the first-ever federal grant program specifically targeted to correct this inhumane injustice.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. Over in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is backing a similar bill.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.