Doug McCrory


Doug McCrory



July 27, 2021

Sen. McCrory Joins Connecticut National Medical Association for Legislative Roundtable on Health in the Black Community and Closing Health Disparities

State Senator Doug McCrory (D-Hartford, Windsor, and Bloomfield) participated in a virtual roundtable discussion hosted by the IMHOTEP Connecticut National Medical Association State Society (CT NMA) and UConn Health. The conversation with members of the CT NMA focused on several health issues relevant to the Black community including closing health disparities, and COVID-19 and vaccinations. Also, attendees received an update on pending federal legislation to improve health in the Black community and a comprehensive health equity law approved by the Connecticut General Assembly this past May.

“Health equity must be a priority for our state to have a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen for months the disproportionate impact this virus has had on communities of color, in addition to exacerbating health disparities that have existed for decades,” said Sen. McCrory. “I appreciate this opportunity to provide an update on legislative efforts to improve quality of health in Connecticut and hear from CT NMA members on how we can support the health needs of the Black community.”

Sen. McCrory was joined for the discussion by State Senator Patricia Billie Miller and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.

“The importance of understanding health disparities not only improves the physical health of a person but also enhances the treatment a person receives,” said Sen. Miller. “Health inequity is an issue that has existed far too long in the Black community and needs to be addressed. It is through discussions like these that we can work to find a resolution. Sen. McCrory and I have strived to be a voice for the people who are most impacted by health and healthcare inequalities and will continue to focus on flattening the curve toward better outcomes for their communities.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to discuss health concerns in the Black community with the IMHOTEP Connecticut National Medical Association State Society, UConn Health, and other elected officials. I am committed to working with these partners to increase access and affordability to healthcare in marginalized communities. The federal response much be holistic and include wraparound services backed up by federal funding,” said Congresswoman Hayes.

Leadership of CT NMA served as moderators of the discussion, along with providing introductions of panelists and closing remarks. CT NMA is a networking platform and collective voice for Black physicians. Together, the group serves as a leader in pushing for parity in medicine, eliminating health disparities, and the dissemination of health information to the Black community.

Iyanna Liles, MD, FACOG, Membership and Co-Programming Chair of the IMHOTEP Connecticut NMA State Society, and Joseph Walker III, MD served as moderators of the panelist question and answer portions for Congresswoman Hayes and the state legislative panelists.

“Legislative advocacy has always been my passion and I am delighted as the Membership and Co-Programming Chair of the CT NMA State Society to initiate our inaugural legislative roundtable discussion focusing on health topics pertinent to the Black community. I am honored to have a distinguished panel of Black legislative panelists inform Black physicians on federal and statewide initiatives that impact the patients we serve and allow opportunities for Black physicians to relay the issues our patients and clinicians face,” said Iyanna Liles, MD, FACOG, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UConn School of Medicine.

Dr. Walker has completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as a fellowship in Pain Medicine. He is an associate professor and currently works at the University of Connecticut Medical Center within the University Spine Center. He treats patients with a wide range of painful conditions. He has memberships in a number of local and national pain medicine and rehabilitation medicine societies.

Introductions of the public officials and CT NMA panelists was conducted by Dr. Marja M. Hurley, Vice President of the Imhotep Connecticut NMA State Society and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at the University of Connecticut and Ken Alleyne MD, Orthopedic Surgeon and Chair, Community Development for CT NMA.

“As Vice President of the CT NMA State Society, I am very pleased that this legislative forum is being presented at this critical time to address the health care of the Black Community in Connecticut and I thank our federal and state legislators for their incredible support of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Medical Association, the oldest health care organization dedicated to providing and improving health of the Black Community,” said Dr. Hurley.

“We are appreciative of the time and attention provided by the Congresswoman Hayes, State Senators McCrory and Miller. As physicians it is important for us to have this type of access to both gain a deeper knowledge of critical issues and to have an opportunity to advocate on behalf our patients. This event focuses the importance of the sponsoring organization, the Connecticut chapter of the National Medical Association in helping address important concerns of the community,” said Ken Alleyne MD.

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, President of the Imhotep Connecticut NMA State Society and Van Dusen Distinguished Professor at the University of Connecticut, provided closing remarks of the discussion.

“As President of the CT NMA State Society, I am excited to see this important legislative program presented for the benefit of our members and supporters throughout the state. It is particularly gratifying to highlight these federal and state officials who have championed causes in support of Black people in Connecticut,” said Dr. Laurencin.

During this year’s legislative session, Sen. McCrory was a proud co-sponsor and voted in support of Senate Bill 1, now Public Act No. 21-35, “An Act Equalizing Comprehensive Access To Mental, Behavioral And Physical Health Care In Response To The Pandemic” which contained several provisions to advance health equity in Connecticut and address health disparities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this transformative law the following will occur:

  • Declares racism a public health crisis
  • Establishes a Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health to document and make recommendations to decrease the effect of racism on public health. The commission will undertake several initiatives including but not limited to creating a comprehensive strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and inequities across sectors, and support the building of new partnerships to promote health and equity and increase government efficiency
  • The state Department of Public Health will study the development and implementation of a recruitment and retention program for health care workers in Connecticut who are people of color
    Establish a gun violence intervention and prevention advisory committee to advise the Public Health Committee and Human Services Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly on creating a Commission on Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention to coordinate the funding and implementation of evidence-based, community-centric programs and strategies to reduce street-level gun violence in the state
  • Also, during the legislative portion of the event, an overview was given of proposed federal legislation to tackle health disparities, address the high Black maternal mortality rate, and expanding access to maternal and prenatal care:

    • U.S. H.R. 1400 – COVID-19 Health Disparities Action Act of 2021 – referred to the Subcommittee on Health in February 2021
    • U.S. Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 – H.R. 959 referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2021 and S.346 referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in the U.S. in February 2021