Congressman Jimmy Gomez and Senator Patty Murray Introduce the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2019

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Washington, June 5, 2019 | comments

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2019. The legislation would expand access to preventive, lifesaving women’s health screenings at safety net healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood. Specifically, the bill would create new grant and pilot programs to expand access to preventive services and better train health practitioners, especially in treating low-income women and women of color.

Jeanette Acosta – a native of California’s 34th congressional district – was a fierce women’s health advocate, a former Congressional staffer, and a White House intern in the Obama administration.  In 2017, she lost her battle with cervical cancer at the age of 32. To announce the introduction of the bill, Congressman Gomez was joined by Jeanette’s parents, Dr. Frank Acosta and Mrs. Maryann Acosta, and brother Robert Acosta, as well as Planned Parenthood President and CEO Dr. Leana Wen, Human Rights Watch U.S. Program Advocacy Director Jasmine Tyler, and Black Women’s Health Imperative President and CEO Linda Goler Blount.

“Jeanette Acosta represented the very best of her generation, one that cares deeply about the rights and health of people across the United States,” said Congressman Gomez. “Not only did she understand preventative cancer screenings save lives, but she also recognized such critical services are the most effective when they’re accessible to every woman – regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code, or socioeconomic background. To celebrate her legacy, Senator Patty Murray and I introduced the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2019, addressing our country’s health care gap by ensuring all women – especially low-income women and women of color – have equal access to quality, lifesaving health services at safety net providers like Planned Parenthood. I’d like to thank the Acosta family for their ongoing support and for giving us the opportunity to honor their daughter’s memory in Congress.”

“We know that making sure every woman in this country can get preventive and lifesaving cancer screenings – no matter who she is, where she lives, or how much she makes – can make an enormous difference. This is especially true for women of color who are more likely to die from some of the same cancers early screening can help catch,” said Senator Murray. “Jeanette Acosta was a warrior and a champion for women’s health who worked to move us toward that goal, and I’m proud to honor her legacy by introducing the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2019, which would increase the availability of preventive and lifesaving cancer screenings at critical health care providers like Planned Parenthood.”

“Jeanette Acosta had a bright future, full of promise,” said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO, Black Women’s Health Imperative. “No woman should die from a disease that is preventable, yet Hispanic women are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with and 30% more likely to die from cervical cancer than white women. It is impossible to address the disproportionate impact of this illness on women of color without acknowledging the implicit bias that exists among health care providers. Our commitment to women of color ensures this legislation addresses the need for cultural sensitivity and unconscious bias training, which is a vital component to delivering life-saving, comprehensive preventive care to women who not only need it, but deserve it.”

“We applaud Senator Murray and Representative Gomez for doing exactly what our government should be doing: expanding access to essential health care, not trying to take it away,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The science is clear: education, preventive screening, and early detection increases the chance of surviving cervical cancer. This bill will help combat systemic health disparities, particularly among people of color, and expand access to life-saving health care screenings for those who need them most. This bill proudly honors Jeanette Acosta’s memory and will build upon her rich legacy of service to help save the lives of people across the country.”

“When a woman dies from cervical cancer, it usually means she was failed by the healthcare system at one of several points when it can be prevented, diagnosed, and treated,” said Jasmine Tyler, Advocacy Director, US Programs, Human Rights Watch. “Expanding access to screenings for cervical cancer for low-income women and women of color is one critical step the government can take to ensure that no woman dies from a disease that is highly preventable and treatable.”

The following organizations have endorsed the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2019:

  • American Medical Student Association
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  • Black Women's Health Imperative
  • Human Rights Watch
  • In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
  • National Black Nurses Association
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  • National Organization for Women
  • National Partnership for Women & Families
  • National Women's Law Center
  • Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA)
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Prevent Cancer Foundation
  • Secular Coalition for America
  • URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Click here to read this legislation in its entirety. 

Click here to view a briefing from an earlier version of this legislation introduced in the 115th Congress.

To learn more about the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2019, please contact Eric Harris, Communications Director and Senior Advisor for Congressman Gomez: Eric.Harris@mail.house.gov.

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