While Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the nation, our state also has some of the worst disparities in terms of health outcomes between white residents and people of color. This February, Minnesota’s Department of Health (MDH) released Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota, which documents just how severe these disparities are and makes recommendations for how Minnesota can make sure all Minnesotans have the opportunity to live healthy lives, regardless of factors including race, income or sexual orientation.
This session, policymakers took steps forward to begin to address some of Minnesota’s health disparities with a particular focus on racial equity. The supplemental budget (House File 3172) includes a one-time appropriation of $501,000 for Health Equity Grants.
These grants will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Health and are available for “activities to address health equity issues, with an emphasis on refugee populations.” A portion of the funds must to be used for:
- Advancing health equity in East African communities.
- A conference focused on mental health in immigrant and refugee communities.
- Women’s reproductive health projects.
- Dementia outreach projects.
This one-time appropriation is a good first step, but the Legislature should continue to address health disparities in Minnesota. In 2015 and into the future, the Legislature must give serious consideration to the health equity report and make real progress toward healthy lives for all.