The Washington Post reports on the long shadow of environmental racism and community advocacy for environmental justice. “Systemic racism has long influenced where major sources of pollution are located within communities. Beginning in the early 20th century, White government planners in many municipalities drew redlining maps that identified Black and Latino neighborhoods as undesirable and unworthy of housing loans. Heavy industry was permitted to cluster in those places, adding a toxic dimension that persists today. Given little support by White philanthropists, environmental justice groups run by Black, Latino, Native American and Alaskan Native advocates historically have been as impoverished as the communities they represent. While White environmental groups tended to focus on wilderness and wildlife, activists fighting everything from toxic dumps in Alabama to massive oil and gas refineries in California have largely worked in the shadows. Today, Black people are nearly four times more likely to die from exposure to pollution than White people. According to “Fumes Across the Fence-Line,” a recent study by the Clean Air Task Force, African Americans are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than White Americans, and they are 75 percent more likely to live in communities that border a plant or factory. During the coronavirus pandemic, the consequences have proved particularly deadly. More than half of all in-hospital deaths from the start of the U.S. outbreak through July 2020 were of Black and Latino patients, according to researchers at Stanford and Duke universities. Black patients were far more likely to require ventilation. “If your Zip code is buried with garbage, chemical plants, pollution … you’ll find there are more people that are sick, more diabetes and heart disease,” said Robert Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University and the author of “Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality.” “Covid is like a heat-seeking missile zeroing in on the most vulnerable communities.”
CDC director Rochelle Wallensky called racism a public health threat this week. “"What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans," she added. "As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community. These social determinants of health have life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of individuals in communities of color."
[Thanks to Sana for this write up]: The Biden-Harris Administration released a summary of the President’s discretionary funding request for FY 2022. The discretionary request proposes $769 billion in non-defense discretionary funding in FY 2022, a 16 percent increase over the FY 2021 enacted level, and $753 billion for national defense programs, a 1.7 percent increase. The President’s forthcoming Budget will include major, complementary mandatory investments and tax reforms. Here some initial details (with more to come next week) and PI’s preliminary analysis where applicable:
- Provides $8.7 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—the largest budget authority increase in nearly two decades—to restore capacity at the world’s preeminent public health agency. (Note the $8.7 B for CDC is only discretionary funding and does not include any money that will be directed to CDC from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Historically, the vast majority of PPHF dollars has been directed to CDC programs. In FY 2022 PPHF is at $1 billion.) See here for the current CDC ask from public health advocates.)
- Prioritizes Mental Health. Provides $1.6 billion, more than double the 2021 enacted level, for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, and additional funding to support the needs of those who are involved in the criminal justice system, resources to partner mental health providers with law enforcement, and funds to expand suicide prevention activities.
- Addresses the Public Health Epidemic of Gun Violence in America. Doubles funding for firearm violence prevention research at CDC and NIH (to $50 million) and includes $100 million for CDC to start a new Community-Based Violence Intervention initiative—in collaboration with Department of Justice—to implement evidence-based community violence interventions locally. (PI analysis: the doubling of funding for firearm prevention research at CDC and NIH is aligned with requests from advocates) link this parenthetical statement to the GVP research funding FY22 sign on letter in policy actions also the $100 million is listed as $200 million in the first part of the document so not sure which is right, let’s see if we can see any other sources that confirm the correct#
- Promotes Health Equity by Addressing Racial Disparities. Provides additional funding to increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce and expand access to culturally competent care. The discretionary request also includes $153 million for CDC’s Social Determinants of Health program, an increase of $150 million over the 2021 enacted level, to support all States and Territories in improving health equity and data collection for racial and ethnic populations. (PI analysis: the request of $153 million is even higher than that requested by advocates). link this parenthetical statement to the March 22nd SDOH apropos letter we joined in policy actions
- Supports Survivors of Domestic and Gender Based-Violence. Includes $489 million to support domestic violence survivors—more than double the 2021 enacted level. This provides additional funding for domestic violence hotlines, cash assistance, and medical support and services.
- Provides Funding to Reduce the Maternal Mortality Rate and End Race-Based Disparities in Maternal Mortality. Includes more than $200 million to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates nationwide, bolster Maternal Mortality Review Committees, expand the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies program, help cities place early childhood development experts in pediatrician offices with a high percentage of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program patients, implement implicit bias training for healthcare providers, and create State pregnancy medical home programs.
- Supports Research to Understand Disparate Health Impacts of Climate Change. Includes $110 million for NIH’s Climate Change and Human Health program, a $100 million increase over the 2021 enacted level, to support research aimed at understanding the health impacts of climate change. In addition, the discretionary request includes $110 million for CDC’s Climate and Health program, a $100 million increase over the 2021 enacted level, to identify potential health effects associated with climate change and implement health adaptation plans.
- Advances the Goal of Ending the Opioid Crisis. Provides a historic investment of $10.7 billion, an increase of $3.9 billion over the 2021 enacted level, to help end the opioid crisis, including funding for States and 12 Tribes, medication-assisted treatment, research, and expanding the behavioral health provider workforce.
The city of Baltimore announced this week that it will no longer prosecute some low-level crimes, including prostitution, drug possession and minor traffic violations. “The move was unveiled in a press release from Mosby’s office as it reported “one-year success” of policies implemented last March to not prosecute the nonviolent charges amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the state’s attorney’s office, last year’s decision has “resulted in a decrease in arrests, no adverse impact on the crime rate, and address the systemic inequity of mass incarceration.” Due to the success of the policies, which were initially enacted as a way to reduce the chances of massive coronavirus outbreaks in prisons or jails, Mosby on Friday announced that the changes would be permanent. “Today, America’s war on drug users is over in the city of Baltimore,” Mosby said in a statement. “We leave behind the era of tough-on-crime prosecution and zero tolerance policing and no longer default to the status quo to criminalize mostly people of color for addiction.” The attorney went on to say, “We will develop sustainable solutions and allow our public health partners to do their part to address mental health and substance use disorder.”
New York City legalized marijuana possession and announced that marijuana-related offenses will be expunged automatically from people’s records and that people who are currently incarcerated or on parole for such offenses will be able to seek relief.
President Biden announced actions his administration will undertake to address and prevent gun violence. The Justice Department will issue proposed rules to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns,” properly regulate stabilizing braces that can make guns more deadly, and publish model “red-flag law” policy language for states to adopt, as well as reporting on gun trafficking. The Biden-Harris administration is also proposing investments in community-based violence prevention through the American Jobs Act.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week that based on the input from the Senate Parliamentarian, the Senate could revise the previous budget-reconciliation bill (used to pass the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) to pass the American Jobs Plan. Taking this option would mean an additional two chances to use the budget reconciliation process (in FY22 and FY23).