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Dingell Urges HHS to Fully Implement MENA Community Inclusion Act

Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-06) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) this week joined Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in applauding the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) efforts to update the standards for race and ethnicity data collection and use. Additionally, they urged Secretary Xavier Becerra to fully implement their Health Equity and Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Community Inclusion Act.
The lawmakers expressed appreciation for the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) newly revised data standards, which added a Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) category. Additionally, the standards require agencies to collect more granular data on racial and ethnic subgroups, allowing for further disaggregation of data to more intentionally and equitably address unique health care needs.
While this is an important step, MENA populations still face significant barriers to accessing care. Organizations that represent MENA communities have often been ineligible for federal programming targeted toward historically marginalized groups. To help address these ongoing disparities, the lawmakers urged HHS to add MENA to the list of “racial and ethnic minority groups” to grant MENA communities access to this programming.
“We are confident that the recent OMB directive will provide a greater body of data to identify unique health trends or potential disparities in the MENA community and other minority communities. Therefore, we urge HHS to ensure that targeted federal programs critical to improving health outcomes and general quality of life are fully available to MENA populations,” wrote the lawmakers.

In 2022, Dingell led a letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the Department of Health and Human Services to collect and report data on individuals who self-identify as “Middle Eastern or North African,” or MENA, to recognize and address health disparities. 
Full text of the letter can be found here.

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