The Health Equity Compact wishes to recognize founding supporters JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., and Foley Hoag LLP for their invaluable work: JSI for technical assistance and research from the very beginning of the Compact; and Foley Hoag for pro bono legal skill and expertise in developing and writing An Act to Advance Health Equity.
Health equity is the opportunity for everyone to attain their full health potential. No one should have limited access to achieving this potential due to economic status, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ability.
Our work to advance health equity leads with race and ethnicity. Structural racism drives adverse racial health disparities and health outcomes for people of color. As people of color, our lived experiences inform and bring urgency to our work. In addition, racial and ethnic disparities exist across many different systems, such as education and employment, and within other dimensions of identity, such as sexual orientation and income. Understanding the intersectional nature of disparities across these systems and dimensions of identity is important for everyone to unite in building a more equitable future for all.
Communities of color have long endured the fatal consequences of racial and ethnic health disparities, stemming from centuries of racist policies and structures. The COVID-19 pandemic brought greater attention to longstanding inequities in access to healthcare and health. The massive differences in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were rooted in existing disparities in health, education, social, political, and economic opportunities. The pandemic highlighted inequities in access for other groups as well, including persons with disabilities and people with low income.
Increased attention to health equity, nationally and in Massachusetts, has been encouraging. We seek to add our collective voice to the growing call for systemic change to advance health equity. Massachusetts was able to achieve universal coverage by collaborating across different sectors and communities. Now is the time for us to make health equity the next major focus of health reform.