Informing Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Health Equity Response

Statement of Problem

The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted all Americans equally. Many vulnerable and marginalized populations are at higher risk of exposure, severe illness, and death from the disease, as well as from indirect harms such as food insecurity and loss of health insurance coverage. PolicyLab experts have raised concerns related to the pandemic’s disparate effects on racial and ethnic minorities, immigrant families, children living in rural areas, the economically challenged, and those with mental health and substance use disorders, among others. Policy and systems changes are urgently needed to address immediate disparities related to COVID-19, as well as the underlying issues that have created them.

Description

Informing Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Health Equity Response

Our Health Equity Portfolio is working with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health to develop recommendations for addressing health disparities related to COVID-19.

Our Health Equity Portfolio is working with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health to develop recommendations for addressing health disparities related to COVID-19.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health convened a COVID-19 Health Equity Response Team in April 2020. Diverse stakeholders from across the Commonwealth participated in subcommittees to develop recommendations for addressing health disparities. PolicyLab facilitated a subcommittee on economically-challenged individuals, low-wage workers and un- and underinsured populations. PolicyLab experts also joined a range of other subcommittees, including those related to pregnant women and parents of extremely young children, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, those with limited English proficiency, and rural Pennsylvanians. In addition to writing recommendations for the committee it facilitated, PolicyLab also drafted a recommendation that COVID-19 data collection should include metrics on preferred language.

All recommendations were finalized in June 2020 and were shared with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, the Lieutenant Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force on Health Disparity and other key stakeholders. In addition to addressing concerns specific to COVID-19, many of the Health Equity Response Team’s suggestions strive to address longer-term, underlying issues related to insurance coverage, access to health care and social determinants of health.

In November 2020, PolicyLab drafted a white paper sharing results of a survey that was conducted through this process among Pennsylvania stakeholders working with immigrant and limited English proficient populations. The white paper findings were summarized in a blog post in English, Spanish and French, as well as a policy brief that was shared widely with local, state, and national stakeholders who serve immigrant, refugee, and limited-English proficient populations.

Next Steps

PolicyLab experts have continued their involvement with the Pennsylvania Department of Health in helping to implement the initial recommendations as well as informing its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans.

This project page was last updated in May 2021.

Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Informing Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Health Equity Response [Online]. Available at: http://www.policylab.chop.edu. [Accessed: plug in date accessed here].