Health Equity is Social Justice

Health Equity is Social Justice

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“Health Equity is Social Justice.
This was the message from Tekisha Dwan Everette, Executive Director of Health Equity Solutions in Connecticut during her speech at the Greater Hartford Multi-Faith Breakfast November 3, 2021. She started her speech with the words “I am”, to claim the roots of her life experience as the greatest degree she holds to inform her work seeking health justice.

Health Equity Solutions seeks the concerns of the people, gathers data, promotes awareness, and works to change the hearts, values, and minds that perpetuate structural inequity and racism. When asked what health equity would look like in a perfect world, Everette reflected on a nation where everyone can experience the best outcomes of care for them. Because all people are different, the goal of care cannot be equal blood pressure readings, or equal parameters of health. The goal of equal care means the individual has access to healthcare providers interested in meeting the priorities of the individual “without barriers” to access to healthy food, clean healthy environments, mental health care and more. Her words were inspiring!
 
So, I ask, how can we as a collective church body promote the reality of health equity for people of color, Black, Latino, Latina, Indigenous, and Asian people? The possibilities are endless. We can invite speakers to our community to educate ourselves about the issue, we could connect with local organizations promoting social justice, we can form partnerships within and including communities where poverty and reduced access to healthy food or clean water are prevalent to work to address the root of the issues. We can create community gardens and teach people to grow their food, creating independence and access, not just handouts.

Another way to improve access to healthcare is to work with local and state health departments to spread the word about resources available to individuals such as state food programs, housing assistance, social services, and affordable health insurance.
 
Today I give you one task: Help get the word out about open enrollment for affordable low or no-cost health coverage through the American Rescue Plan. Marketplace Open Enrollment Period began November 1 and runs until January 15, 2022. People must apply by December 15, 2021, for coverage to start January 1, 2022. Due to the American Rescue Plan this year, four out of five people will be able to find plans for $10 a month or less, and people may qualify for tax incentives that lower premiums as well. Share this information in your newsletters, bulletins, and social media pages. Quality healthcare coverage is an important step to reducing health disparity.

Individuals will find more information at https://www.healthcare.gov/ or by calling 1-800-318-2596. To find local assistance with the application and enrollment visit https://www.healthcare.gov/find-assistance/  and put in your zip code.
 
This is a small step but a very important one that is easy to do! Contact me if you would like to learn more about how to work toward Health Equity as Social Justice. Debbie Ringen, ringend@sneucc.org
 
Connecticut:  Access health CT
Massachusetts: Massachusetts Health Connector
Rhode Island: HealthSourceRI

Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash

Author

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Deborah Ringen

Deborah Ringen MSN, RN-BC is a Faith Community Nurse and the Minister of Health and Wellness for the Southern New England Conference, UCC.

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