Rep. Sewell and Sen. Booker Introduce Legislation Named for the Late Rep. John Lewis to Advance Health Equity and Access to Care
May 2, 2023
Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) introduced the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment (EMMT) Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would advance health equity and access to care for minority communities by requiring the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to work with experts to consider health disparities when developing payment models. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“Our late colleague, Congressman John Lewis, dedicated his life to the fight for fairness and equity, including the right to quality affordable health care for Americans of every background,” said Rep. Sewell. “Along with Senator Booker, I’m proud to be introducing legislation which would advance his legacy by expanding access to health care for minorities, underserved areas, and high-risk individuals. The John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act will go a long way in helping us ensure coordinated care and build a fairer and more just health care system for all.”
"Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, and it is time for our policies to reflect that,” said Senator Booker. “The John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act is a necessary step toward ensuring that all Americans, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have access to the fair and quality care they deserve. Let us honor the legacy of Representative John Lewis by passing this important legislation and taking bold action towards improving health equity and health outcomes for everyone."
Established by the Affordable Care Act, CMMI works to develop, test, and implement new value-based payment models. Under current law, however, CMMI is not required to consider social determinants of health—such as a patient’s environment, education, and economic status—when implementing and testing new payment models. The current status quo incentivizes health providers to pick patients who will produce favorable clinical outcomes, which leaves women, people in rural communities, and Black and Brown people sidelined in the development of payment models.
The John Lewis EMMT Act would direct CMMI to consult with experts on health disparities, such as the Office of Minority Health of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and the Office on Women’s Health, on developing new payment models that focus not only on lowering costs but also advancing health equity and improving access to care.
Specifically, the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act directs CMMI to:
- Consider a model’s impact on access to care for people of color, women, and people in rural areas, in addition to cost and quality.
- Include experts in health disparities and social determinants of health during the evaluation and review process for new payment models.
- Directs CMMI to create a Social Determinants of Health Model that focuses on health conditions of those dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, behavioral health, and maternal mortality.
“Movement is Life is grateful for Representative Sewell’s leadership in the fight to eliminate health disparities,” said Mary’ I. O’Connor, MD, Chair of Movement is Life. “We are excited that Representative Sewell is reintroducing the John Lewis EMMT Act to provide much needed reforms to ensure all new payment models are designed to reduce health disparities."
“Congressman John Lewis worked tirelessly to ensure that Medicare supported every beneficiary, in every community,” said Barbara Petee, President of the Root Cause Coalition. “In rural and urban areas alike, we continue to believe that we must come together, from all sectors, to ensure care for those who are not as healthy or wealthy. The Root Cause Coalition applauds Representative Sewell for her ongoing leadership in health care and will continue to champion this bill as a crucial step towards addressing social determinants and improving health outcomes across the country.”
“The National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON), a national member organization of nurses who share an interest in musculoskeletal healthcare, is proud to endorse the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act” said Charla Johnson, NAON Immediate Past President. “This important legislation addresses our shared goal of eliminating health disparities and improving access to quality care in minorities and underserved urban and rural communities.”
“The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) is committed to supporting patients and their right to access high-quality, affordable health care, as our 10,000+ medical-surgical nurse members know firsthand the inequities within the healthcare system and struggles that many patients have to access the care they need. This bill would address the important issue of social determinants of health (SDOH) by creating new policy and urging equity for all when it comes to healthcare,” said AMSN President, Marisa L. Streelman, DNP, RN, CMSRN, NE-BC. “We are proud to support the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act and hope to see it enacted by the 118th Congress.”
The John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act is also supported by:
- Protect Our Care
- Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Diseases
The Senate version is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).
Bill text can be found here.