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Over the last 20 months, the debate surrounding racial health care disparity became resoundingly clear as we witnessed COVID-19 disproportionately affect our loved ones and communities. The pandemic exposed America's long-standing gap in access to quality care. Decades of inequality in economic investments have left Black and Latinx communities underserved and under-resourced for generations.

Roles that were suddenly deemed essential required increased exposure to the public, with job losses contributing to disruptions in health coverage. At the same time, a recent study showed that Black patients who previously contracted the virus received less care and doctor follow-up after discharge than white patients. Beyond experiencing twice the number of cases and deaths among Black and brown people, the pandemic's far-reaching implications will have long-lasting effects if left unaddressed. Comprehensive health coverage and access to quality care are no longer just nice to haves — they are imperative to ensuring the future of Black families.

The social policy bill that Biden's administration and Congress pushed forward is an important step toward addressing obstacles that have been neglected for too long. Deeply rooted inequities in this country were embedded in our economic, housing, education and healthcare systems long before the pandemic. Expanding access to health coverage while lowering rates to an affordable range across the age spectrum will make a significant impact.

But the work does not stop at implementing these policies from the White House. Eliminating barriers to health coverage requires a three-pronged approach. The systemic change at the federal level, a local strategy of diverse representation in our neighborhoods and, lastly, proactive education on the actions we can take individually to ensure we have access to the care we need.

These are three actions the government, coverage providers and individuals should take together: