Text: H.R.2233 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (05/04/2009)

1st Session
H. R. 2233

To authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate health empowerment zones, and for other purposes.


May 4, 2009

Mrs. Christensen (for herself, Ms. Lee of California, Mr. Meek of Florida, Mr. Watt, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Ms. Jackson-Lee of Texas, Ms. Watson, Ms. Corrine Brown of Florida, Ms. Fudge, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Ms. Edwards of Maryland, Ms. Clarke, Mr. Towns, Mr. Rush, Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, Mr. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Scott of Virginia, Mr. Clyburn, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Faleomavaega, Mr. Rangel, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. Pierluisi, and Mr. Conyers) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


To authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate health empowerment zones, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Health Empowerment Zone Act of 2009”.

SEC. 2. Table of contents.

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title.

Sec. 2. Table of contents.

Sec. 3. Findings.

Sec. 4. Designation of health empowerment zones.

Sec. 5. Assistance to those seeking designation.

Sec. 6. Benefits of designation.

Sec. 7. Definition.

Sec. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

SEC. 3. Findings.

(a) Findings.—The Congress finds the following:

(1) Numerous studies and reports, including the National Healthcare Disparities Report and Unequal Treatment, the 2002 Institute of Medicine Report, document the extensiveness to which health disparities exist across the country.

(2) These studies have found that, on average, racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately afflicted with chronic and acute conditions—such as cancer, diabetes, and hypertension—and suffer worse health outcomes, worse health status, and higher mortality rates than their White counterparts.

(3) Several recent studies also show that health disparities are a function of not only access to health care, but also the social determinants of health—including the environment, the physical structure of communities, nutrition and food options, educational attainment, employment, race, ethnicity, geography, and language preference—that directly and indirectly affect the health, health care, and wellness of individuals and communities.

(4) Integrally involving and fully supporting the communities most affected by health inequities in the assessment, planning, launch, and evaluation of health disparity elimination efforts is among the leading recommendations made to adequately address and ultimately reduce health disparities.

(5) Recommendations also include supporting the efforts of community stakeholders from a broad cross section—including, but not limited to local businesses, local departments of commerce, education, labor, urban planning, and transportation, and community-based and other nonprofit organizations—to find areas of common ground around health disparity elimination and collaborate to improve the overall health and wellness of a community and its residents.

SEC. 4. Designation of health empowerment zones.

(a) In general.—At the request of an eligible community partnership, the Secretary may designate an eligible area as a health empowerment zone.

(b) Eligibility criteria.—

(1) ELIGIBLE COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP.—A community partnership is eligible to submit a request under this section if the partnership—

(A) demonstrates widespread public support from key individuals and entities in the eligible area, including State and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and community and industry leaders, for designation of the eligible area as a health empowerment zone; and

(B) includes representatives of—

(i) a broad cross section of stakeholders and residents from communities in the eligible area experiencing disproportionate disparities in health status and health care; and

(ii) organizations, facilities, and institutions that have a history of working within and serving such communities.

(2) ELIGIBLE AREA.—An area is eligible to be designated as a health empowerment zone under this section if one or more communities in the area experience disproportionate disparities in health status and health care. In determining whether a community experiences such disparities, the Secretary shall consider the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services focusing on the following areas:

(A) Access to high-quality health services.

(B) Arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic back conditions.

(C) Cancer.

(D) Chronic kidney disease.

(E) Diabetes.

(F) Injury and violence prevention.

(G) Maternal, infant, and child health.

(H) Medical product safety.

(I) Mental health and mental disorders.

(J) Nutrition and overweight.

(K) Disability and secondary conditions.

(L) Educational and community-based health programs.

(M) Environmental health.

(N) Family planning.

(O) Food safety.

(P) Health communication.

(Q) Health disease and stroke.


(S) Immunization and infectious diseases.

(T) Occupational safety and health.

(U) Oral health.

(V) Physical activity and fitness.

(W) Public health infrastructure.

(X) Respiratory diseases.

(Y) Sexually transmitted diseases.

(Z) Substance abuse.

(AA) Tobacco use.

(BB) Vision and hearing.

(c) Procedure.—

(1) REQUEST.—A request under subsection (a) shall—

(A) describe the bounds of the area to be designated as a health empowerment zone and the process used to select those bounds;

(B) demonstrate that the partnership submitting the request is an eligible community partnership described in subsection (b)(1);

(C) demonstrate that the area is an eligible area described in subsection (b)(2);

(D) include a comprehensive assessment of disparities in health status and health care experience by one or more communities in the area;

(E) set forth—

(i) a vision and a set of values for the area; and

(ii) a comprehensive and holistic set of goals to be achieved in the area through designation as a health empowerment zone; and

(F) include a strategic plan for achieving the goals described in subparagraph (E)(ii).

(2) APPROVAL.—Not later than 60 days after the receipt of a request for designation of an area as a health empowerment zone under this section, the Secretary shall approve or disapprove the request.

(d) Minimum number.—The Secretary—

(1) shall designate not more than 110 health empowerment zones under this section; and

(2) shall designate at least one health empowerment zone in each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and each territory or possession of the United States.

SEC. 5. Assistance to those seeking designation.

At the request of any organization or entity seeking to submit a request under section 4(a), the Secretary shall provide technical assistance, and may award a grant, to assist such organization or entity—

(1) to form an eligible community partnership described in subsection (b)(1);

(2) to complete a health assessment, including an assessment of health disparities under subsection (c)(1)(D); or

(3) to prepare and submit a request, including a strategic plan, in accordance with section 4.

SEC. 6. Benefits of designation.

(a) Priority.—In awarding any competitive grant, a Federal official shall give priority to any applicant that—

(1) meets the eligibility criteria for the grant;

(2) proposes to use the grant for activities in a health empowerment zone; and

(3) demonstrates that such activities will directly and significantly further the goals of the strategic plan approved for such zone under section 4.

(b) Grants for initial implementation of strategic plan.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Upon designating an eligible area as a health empowerment zone at the request of an eligible community partnership, the Secretary shall, subject to the availability of appropriations, make a grant to the community partnership for implementation of the strategic plan for such zone.

(2) GRANT PERIOD.—A grant under paragraph (1) for a health empowerment zone shall be for a period of 2 years and may be renewed, except that the total period of grants under paragraph (1) for such zone may not exceed 10 years.

(3) LIMITATION.—In awarding grants under this subsection, the Secretary shall not give less priority to an applicant or reduce the amount of a grant because the Secretary rendered technical assistance or made a grant to the same applicant under section 5.

(4) REPORTING.—The Secretary shall require each recipient of a grant under this subsection to report to the Secretary not less than every 6 months on the progress in implementing the strategic plan for the health empowerment zone.

SEC. 7. Definition.

In this Act, the term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Director of the Office of Minority Health, and in cooperation with the Director of the Office of Community Services and the Director of the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities.

SEC. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

To carry out this Act, there is authorized to be appropriated $100,000,000 for fiscal year 2010.