The state of Black women’s health is in critical condition, due to the systemic racism, discrimination, and implicit bias that Black women face within the health care system. To combat the intersecting factors that create an inequitable health care experience for Black women, the following aggressive strategies must be implemented.
- Create policies with an intentional racial equity lens
- Continue expanding Medicaid benefits, including postpartum coverage
- Integrate health care access into public schools
- Ensure technological accessibility for Black families
- Increase the number of Black professionals in the medical field
- Improve the quality of care for Black women
This report, which is an extension of the previously published brief by the same name, will provide an overview of the multifaceted issues contributing to the status of Black women’s health. It will also highlight health policy areas that require urgent attention and immediate intervention. Lastly, it will offer health policy recommendations targeting the institutions, systems, and previous legislation that have both intentionally and inadvertently harmed Black women’s overall health.
Our goal is to help inform Arkansans of health policy issues impacting Black women and to create partnerships with other community stakeholders in Arkansas to help increase access to health care and improve the well-being of all Black women. Policymakers, health care providers, and community-based organizations must work together to address the health care inequities that plague Black women.
Medicaid enrollment can be a daunting process for many people—both U.S.-born New Yorkers and those who are foreign-born. It is even more challenging for those that don’t speak English, don’t have access to a computer, or those who do not understand the complicated health insurance system in the United States.
To better understand the difficulties that immigrants face when enrolling for Medicaid, we interviewed 20 immigrants from across New York State to uncover the challenges that may arise for these community members. To ensure a sample that engages a range of immigrant experiences, we interviewed New Yorkers from different countries, living in different parts of the state, and with different immigration statuses—including refugees, New Yorkers with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), Victims of Criminal Activity (U-visa), and undocumented individuals, some of whom are eligible for state-funded Medicaid as “PRUCOLs” (Persons Residing Under Color of Law) or through emergency Medicaid.
There’s a crisis in service work in Milwaukee. Too many of these jobs—in food service, janitorial work, security services, and human and health services—offer low wages, inadequate and often unpredictable hours, and benefits packages that are usually weak, if they exist at all. For Milwaukee, these jobs have been a sorry replacement for the good union manufacturing jobs that once defined opportunity in the city. This economic transformation has especially damaged Milwaukee’s Black community, resulting in extreme racial disparity.
All of this was well documented before COVID-19. In the last two years, the underlying crisis in these jobs has been exposed and it has grown. Until we build a strong, consistent floor of better wages, more predictable hours, and stronger benefits in these jobs, the crisis will continue.
The City of Milwaukee can help to lead this effort. In every aspect of policy, the City can seek to strengthen job quality, raise labor standards, and support and build a high-road approach to service work in the city
In 2020 and 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic changed work. Parents and caregivers, mothers especially, racked up hours of unpaid labor caring for kids and overseeing schoolwork while holding down jobs. Essential workers went out to work, patched together child care, and worried about bringing illness home. These frontline workers were newly visible and respected—low-paid grocery clerks alongside higher-status health care professionals.
In March 2020, when the government declared a state of emergency and Vermont shuttered nearly all public spaces, 80,000 Vermonters were suddenly unemployed, many without income. Later, some returned to jobs and offices, but others left the labor force for good.
The slowdown gave many people time to reorder their priorities and recalibrate the balance among work, family, and other pursuits. And a labor shortage strengthened workers’ position to demand better pay and working conditions. Nationally, public support for unions grew. If the power shift is sustained, it will be one good outcome of the pandemic.
The pandemic illuminated problems Vermont already faced: policy gaps that leave families struggling to pay rent and other bills or systemic health inequities, from authorities’ neglect of language differences to the physical effects of generational trauma, that render Vermont’s Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) more vulnerable to illness and death. But the economic crisis caused by the health crisis, and the government’s robust response to it, also offered lessons that, if heeded, can improve Vermonters’ lives during both normal times and emergencies.