One of the many efforts that failed during this past Texas legislative session was one to resurrect an agency that looked at how institutional racism affected health outcomes in Texas.
It’s partly a mystery as to why state lawmakers in 2017 defunded the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement. But what is known is that the agency would have been useful during the pandemic. Data shows black and Latino Texans were more likely to get sick, be hospitalized and die from exposure to COVID-19. That is partly why Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman says he sponsored a bill to resurrect the agency and make it more robust.
“We have to get back in the business of public health, particularly population public health, and that lessens morbidity and mortality based on different factors – intervene in those circumstances to keep people alive and thriving,” Coleman said.
And even though his bill was a priority for leadership in the House, Coleman says it was flat out killed in the Texas Senate. Coleman says ultimately he believes some lawmakers have simply gotten tired of listening to what issues are facing communities of color and what their needs are in Austin.