Health Equity

Being a physician in the District in the 21st century means being on the front line of the most pressing public health issues in the world. In our small geographic boundaries, physicians help address issue found in every state all in one area. The issues are too lengthy to list on one webpage but physicians are on the front lines of addressing health issues for all District residents.

News, MSDC Statements, and MSDC Testimony on Health Equity Issues


Committee on Health Advances Vaccination Bill

Oct 8, 2020, 07:53 AM by MSDC staff
MSDC saw three bills it supported pass the Committee on Health yesterday, including a bill allowing easier access to vaccines.

The Council's Committee on Health yesterday passed a bill permitting informed minors to consent to vaccinations, among a list of other bills.


The Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-171) permits a minor aged 11 or older to receive a vaccine recommended by the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices without a parent or guardian's consent. The bill, written by Councilmember Mary Cheh, was in response to the increased activity by the "anti-vaxxer" movement. The bill as amended permits providers to receive reimbursement without involving the parents/guardian and permits minors to receive a copy of their immunization record without parental consent.

The Medical Society of DC and the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP DC) worked closely with the Council to ensure the bill was medically sound. MSDC member Elizabeth Ghandakly testified on behalf of the Society at the June 26, 2019 hearing. At the markup, Chair Vincent Gray specifically thanked MSDC and its members for their work on the bill.

Two other bills were marked-up and passed out of committee yesterday of note for DC physicians. The first is B23-529, the Certificate of Stillbirth Amendment Act of 2019. The bill authorizes DC Health to create a process for a woman or couple to request a birth certificate for a stillborn pregnancy. MSDC member Dr. Sam Kareff testified in support of the bill, and the bill's language was reviewed with Council staff by MSDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Kareff opioid labelling 7.20

The second bill is B23-535, the Opioid Labeling Amendment Act of 2020. The bill requires prescription opioid medications to include a statement that the drug is an opioid and that opioids may cause dependence, addiction, or overdose. Dr. Kareff testified in support of the bill on behalf of MSDC at its hearing on July 29, 2020.

Sample of Health Equity Legislation MSDC is Tracking

(See the whole list of bills here

Student Access to Treatment Amendment Act (B23-467)

What does it say? The bill allows for the administration of medicinal marijuana in schools as well as allows students to bring sunscreen to schools and apply it without a prescription.

MSDC position: MSDC supports the language permitting sunscreen application in schools

Current status: A win for DC physicians and public health! The legislation passed the Council in February and was signed by the Mayor. Previous temporary and emergency legislation permitted students to use sunscreen at schools this school year already.

Electronic Medical Order for Scope of Treatment Registry Amendment Act (B23-261)

What does it say? The bill requires DC Health to establish an electronic Medical Order for Scope of Treatment registry (eMOST).

MSDC position: MSDC supports this legislation to more easily allow patients to make their treatment orders known.

Current status: A win for the physician community and our patients! The Council passed the bill in December and the Mayor signed it into law on January 16, 2020.

Healthy Beverage Choices Amendment Act (B23-495)

What does it say? The bill would implement a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on the distribution of "sugary" beverages. The money collected from the tax would establish a Healthy People, Healthy Places Open Spaces Grant Program.

MSDC position: MSDC sent a letter to Council Chair Mendelson asking for a hearing to discuss all of the issues around a beverage tax.

Current status: The bill was introduced October 8, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development and the Committee of the Whole.