Public policies can and should improve health equity. In legislatures across the country, we ask our elected representatives to develop and pass policies that will make our communities better and stronger. Research has shown that policies that further equity also contribute to economic growth and overall community happiness, but we rarely evaluate proposed policies on their equity merits.
Understanding the equity impact of each piece of legislation requires expertise and resources that haven’t been available for legislators—until now. At the request of Senator Rhonda Fields, we’re piloting a legislative equity program in the Health and Human Service committees of Colorado’s House and Senate.
This has never been done before. Colorado is in the unique position to pilot this Legislative Equity Program because of both the work of dozens of organizations over the past several years to elevate equity conversations to the policymaking level and the record-setting number of legislators (primarily legislators of color and female legislators) who included equity issues in their campaign platforms. Center for Health Progress is in the unique position to drive this pilot because of both our years of experience analyzing legislation for health equity impact and our strong relationships with legislators and our network of partner organizations. This initiative will be the first of its kind in the US, and provided the approach proves fruitful, it could be scaled up to support bill analysis and access to equity advisers for every legislative committee in Colorado, as well as to other state legislatures. Ultimately, we believe it can transform Colorado’s policymaking to drive us further and faster in our work toward health equity.Legislative Equity Program