Press Releases

Rep. Mucarsel-Powell & Rep. Katie Porter Introduce Bill to Tackle Unconscious Bias in the Medical Field

Washington, December 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), will introduce the Medical Education for a Diverse America ActThis bill will give medical school residents the opportunity to take courses in cultural competency to better serve patients from communities of color. U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) is a co-lead of this legislation. 

This important bill is supported by multicultural healthcare organizations and advocacy groups working to empower doctors to provide care in a manner that is linguistically appropriate and sensitive to the culture of their patients. These groups include the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and MANA - A Latina Organization.

“In spite of significant advances in medicine and technology in the past 30 years, health disparities remain for patients from communities of color,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “From maternal mortality rates, to inaccurate drug prescriptions, to cardiovascular procedures, minority groups experience worse health outcomes when seeking care. These disparities are exacerbated by the unconscious bias of even the most well-intentioned healthcare professionals. In order to reach true health equity, we must give our physicians opportunities to pursue culturally appropriate care.”

“Healthcare decisions for families are deeply personal—that’s why it’s essential that medical providers are trained to give the best possible care to patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, or primary language,” said Congresswoman Porter, a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “I’m proud to partner with my colleague Congresswoman Murcasel-Powell on this legislation that will ensure providers receive training in language literacy and cultural competency. This could not be more important in Orange County, which is home to a vibrant multitude of communities of color.”

“The National Hispanic Medical Association supports the bill introduced by Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell and Congresswoman Porter for expanding Graduate Medical Education (GME) training for residents to learn about cultural competency and language services that will help decrease implicit bias for Latino patients,” said Dr. Elena Rios, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Medical Association.

"The hallmark of quality care is that which is patient-centered, and that means being culturally and linguistically appropriate. Ensuring that the next generation of health care workers have those skills is more critical now than ever before," said Kathy KoChin, President and CEO, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. 

“Research shows that cultural and linguistic competence education and training enhances a resident’s communication skills and awareness of biases and health disparities,” said Karen Fisher, JD, chief public policy officer of the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges). “The AAMC endorses the Medical Education for a Diverse America Act, which would reinforce the impact of this graduate medical education training to enable physicians to provide better care to patients throughout their careers.”

"Placing value on culturally and linguistically appropriate care from the outset of medical students' training will not only benefit their careers but will help them better serve a broader range of patients, who have historically faced difficulties communicating with and understanding medical professionals. Lives can be saved with this simple focus on human connection and understanding. We applaud Congresswomen Mucarsel-Powell and Porter for their leadership in making our health care system more accessible and accommodating," said Amy Hinojosa, President and CEO, MANA, A National Latina Organization.