Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed a bill this week declaring racism to be a public health crisis.
The legislation, which passed 114-33 after going through the Senate in similar fashion, is now headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and, if it becomes law, is set to create task forces to study how systemic racism may impact health outcomes. The purported goal of the bill is to reduce medical outcome disparities by 70 percent, and it will require bias trainings for doctors who work with pregnant or post-partum women and establish programs to recruit more non-white people to work in health care.
Further, the bill borrows academic phrases from critical race theory, including demands for “cultural humility” from white health care workers, which is an innocuous way of declaring the need to go into every interaction actively thinking about your race, the race of those with whom you are speaking, and any potential power imbalances therein. Predictably, it also contains provisions that have nothing to do with racism in health care, calling for studies regarding mental health treatment and breast cancer, and tackling gun violence by creating an additional advisory committee.
Although some Republicans voted with Democrats, the debate was intense, with some using the bill as a declaration of the entire country’s systemic racism. Others feared giving critical race theory a stronger foothold in the law.
“Racism has been a public health crisis since the founding of this country,” declared Democratic state Rep. Brandon McGee on the House floor, praising the bill as a good step toward rectification.
Kimberly Fiorello, one of the 33 state representatives who voted against the measure, is concerned the governor is “exercising extra controls” through COVID-19. She told Fox News she believes the bill “is critical race theory in our laws, it’s just reprehensible, and it’s just offensive to the great people of Connecticut.”
“I will tell you, our institutions have their faults but nothing to what this bill says. Nothing,” said Republican state Rep. Harry Arora, who believes discrimination exists and ought to be combated but that this bill is far worse than the problem. “There are bad apples out there, bad people out there. There are some bad laws out there. There’s some remnants. There’s something that needs to be written, perhaps. But the core is good. I’m angry when I look at this bill.”