Jacksonville lawmaker pushing for more funding to bridge health disparities gap

Health disparities in Duval County

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is getting real about health disparities in our community.

Thursday, we showed you how most of the kids dying from COVID19 are minorities, that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, we spoke to a local lawmaker about how to fix the problem.

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Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson tweeted Action News Jax Lorena Inclán Thursday night after her story aired saying in part, “many of us have been saying during the pandemic and before…people of color are disproportionately impacted.”

So Inclán asked, where do we start to address this problem?

Gibson said “by restoring the health disparities line in the budget closer to the $10 million it started with…now whittled to $1.5 million.”

She said the issue was brought up by senate members of the Black caucus about 18 years ago.

“The original amount that was in the budget was $10 million on this particular issue and it’s dropped over and over, over the years though the disparities have not gotten any less,” said Gibson.

Sen. Gibson said the health disparities line item recently got a bump closer to $5 million but that’s still not enough.

She said with more funding, the state could see an expansion of services like mobile clinics in underserved areas.

“Imagine if we did Duval region, a South Florida region, a I-4 corridor region and the different regions around the state. With that little bit of money, it doesn’t go far enough and deep enough into the community,” said Gibson.

And it’s not just health care accessibility.

Sen. Gibson said food desserts are still a problem and she wants to see incentives for companies to invest in low income communities.

“Some people don’t believe in incentives. I do. Particularly when they work and serve people and create the jobs,” said Gibson.

She said she’ll continue the fight in the next session which starts after the November elections.

“I’m going to be talking to my republican colleagues, including the new ones, making sure that a priority is given to not touching not one dime of the dollars in that pot and potentially increasing again so we move closer towards the $10 million” she said.