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, Statements, and Testimony on Health Equity Issues

25th Council session information coming soon.


DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority Makes it Easier to Get Heart Disease Care

Jan 11, 2024, 14:28 PM by Health Benefits Exchange
Executive Board votes to remove copays and deductibles to improve affordability and reduce health disparities


(Washington, DC)­­ –The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board voted to adopt a new benefits design to address health disparities for patients with heart disease (cardiovascular disease) and cerebrovascular disease (including stroke survivors). The benefit design was developed by its stakeholder Standard Plans Working Group with help from a nationally recognized cardiologist identified through the American Heart Association.

Starting in Plan Year 2025, individuals covered by a DC Health Link standard plan will no longer have copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for visits with their primary care doctor (including family medicine or internal medicine doctor) for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular care. The DCHBX Executive Board also removed cost sharing for all generic prescription drugs and services related to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, as well as for laboratory tests and imaging including CT scans and electrocardiograms.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, according to research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. The rate of Black DC residents who die from heart disease is 2.5 times higher than White residents. Additionally, 10.1% of Black residents and 12.9% of Hispanic/Latino residents compared to 6.1% of White residents report not seeing a doctor because of cost.

“Eliminating cost sharing for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, conditions that disproportionally impact communities of color, will save lives,” said Diane C. Lewis, M.P.A., Chair of the DCHBX Executive Board and Chair of the DCHBX Social Justice and Health Disparities Working Group. “DCHBX is committed to addressing health disparities and getting to equity in health coverage and care.  We are using every tool available to us in our state-based marketplace.  We know that financial barriers to care is a major contributor to differences in health outcomes.  Our actions today will improve access to care and will narrow the significant differences in health outcomes based on race and ethnicity. And most importantly, we will help save lives.”

The action taken by DCHBX Executive Board means that starting in 2025, more patients with heart disease or cerebrovascular disease can get the care they need.  Patients who need a CT scan will no longer have to pay $500, the required co-payment in Bronze coverage for CT scans after meeting the annual deductible.  These changes apply to DC Health Link standard plans available in the small group and individual and family marketplace.

This action is the latest step DCHBX Executive Board has taken to implement policy changes developed by its Social Justice and Health Disparities Working Group designed to stop systemic racism in health care. For plan year 2024, DCHBX Executive Board reduced copays for children covered by a standard plan on DC Health Link to a $5 copay, with no deductibles, for outpatient mental health visits, including specialist visits, and no limit on the number of visits.  The Board also reduced prescription copays for child mental health care to $5, with no deductibles.  For Plan Year 2023 Standard Plans, DCHBX Executive Board eliminated cost sharing for outpatient Type 2 Diabetes care and services including physician visits, blood tests, vision and foot exams, prescription medications, and supplies including insulin.  No copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.  Type 2 diabetes also disproportionally impacts communities of color in the District.

The DCHBX Executive Board resolution eliminating cost sharing for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease is available here.

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Sample of Health Equity Legislation MSDC Tracked 


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.