In 2021, Louisiana ranked 46th in Healthcare. Contributing to this low ranking is the lack of public health funding, the lack of access to care, the high number of uninsured, and the poor overall quality of care.
Gary believes that Louisianans’ health is the foundation of a better Louisiana.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic illustrated what Black Americans already knew– that the American healthcare system is woefully inadequate. Leaders around the world, on the continent of Africa and in countries such as Japan, quickly adopted public health measures to save thousands, if not millions of lives. Though COVID-19 is a new crisis, the health disparities highlighted by it is nothing new for Black Louisiana. As we stretch into our third year in a pandemic, with continued waves of lockdowns as new variants infect our population, it is clear that we are still woefully unprepared as a state and a nation to effectively deliver healthcare solutions to our communities.
Currently, Louisiana ranks 46th out of 50 for healthcare, 49th in infant mortality, 49th for mental health, and 50th for preventable admissions. Louisiana has a 38.1% obesity rate, 14% diabetes rate, and ranks 50th amongst all states in healthcare challenges. Notably, health disparities also exist in maternal health with a maternal mortality rate of 20.1 per 100,000 births. Driving that number is the health disparities that exist between Black and white Louisianans. We must do better! Black Lives depend upon it, and Gary is committed to addressing these disparities to ensure a healthier Louisiana.
So, where do we go from here? A healthier Louisiana or continue along this chaotic path? To get us from the figurative bottom of the map, health inequalities must be addressed, because when we take care of the least of us, we take care of us all!
Gary uses the quote, “In God we trust, but everybody else must bring data.” Why? Because the data tells us that to address the inequalities in the current healthcare system, a community-based health care model must be adopted.
Gary is committed to advocating for and passing legislation for the following priorities:
1. Medicare for All
A single-payer healthcare system, also known as Medicare for All. The time for debate around this measure has long since passed. It is clear that we need to overhaul the health insurance industry to ensure that all Americans are able to afford healthcare. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
2. Community-based health centers
Advocating for and finding federal dollars to erect and fund community-based health centers in underserved Louisiana communities. Gary believes that healthcare must be accessible to all Louisianans. Healthcare access includes but is not limited to: mental health access and affordable prescription drugs.
Gary is committed to ensuring not only funding for the centers but also for community-based health initiatives that recognize that:
- Racism in medicine/the healthcare industry is a leading cause of health disparities;
- The initiatives and interventions related to the initiatives must be developed by the racial and ethnic groups/population experiencing the health disparity;
- The research conducted with the federal funds must be done by or in partnership with community members while providing just compensation for those community members.
3. Maternal and infant health
The maternal and infant health of Black families is a major concern to Gary. Louisiana’s maternal mortality rate for Black women is 72.6 for every 100,000 births. Gary will consult with culturally competent experts to advise him on how to best address this healthcare crisis.
Gary is additionally committed to:
- Funding HBCU programs to increase the number of Black doctors who are better able to communicate and understand what Black mothers are going through;
- Advocating for a standard of care akin to the Great Britain model that ensures every mother, regardless of her race, receives the same procedures and level of care.
4. Prescription drug cost
The average retail price for insulin rose 54% from 2014 to 2019. From January 2020 to October 2021, those prices have decreased only about 5%. 18 million Americans can’t afford needed medications. The pharmaceutical industry is out of control and needs to be reined in from its unacceptable price gouging.
Gary is committed to:
- Supporting the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) to begin the process of curbing outrageous prescription drug prices;
- Rejecting lobbying overtures from pharmaceutical companies so that he can remain dedicated to serving everyday Louisianans.