Health Equity Compact tackling big challenges

JUAN FERNANDO LOPERA doesn’t minimize the immense challenges facing the Health Equity Compact, a group of 50 Black and Latinx Massachusetts health care leaders who joined together last year to address inequities in health care.

“We talked a lot about are we trying to boil the ocean and the reality is, yes, we need to boil the ocean in order to address the deeply rooted systemic disparities in health care,” said Lopera, the chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at Beth Israel Lahey Health.

Boiling the ocean, of course, is an impossible task, but the compact is moving ahead. The group announced its formation last year, filed legislation this year, and is spreading the word about its ambitious agenda.

“We know that the work isn’t easy. We know we have centuries of structural injustice to unwind,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, the president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.

Minter-Jordan and Lopera, key members of the Health Equity Compact, joined John McDonough of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University and Paul Hattis of the Lown Institute on a Health or Consequences edition of The Codcast.

The legislation the group filed prioritizes health equity in state government, better data gathering, and an overall focus on improving access to care and the quality of care. It calls for a greater focus on health inequity at the Health Policy Commission. And a report is in the works with Blue Cross Blue Shield on the cost to society of health care inequity.

A section of the proposed legislation would require the state to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants. McDonough said California and New Mexico have gone that route using state funds, but he described it as “kind of a third-rail issue.”

It’s a personal issue for Lopera, who came to this country as a young undocumented immigrant from Colombia. “Health care did not work for my family,” he said.

Lopera said providing health insurance to undocumented immigrants is common sense, pointing out that many immigrants without health insurance end up sick and treated more expensively in emergency rooms. 

“It is something that we need to address. We need to pay for it one way or another,” he said. “We think it is a human right to provide health insurance.”

He is hopeful for passage of the provision in the wake of the Legislature’s approval last session of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. He said the compact is researching what it would cost to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants now.

Asked if the legislation is the end goal of the Health Equity Compact, both Minter-Jordan and Lopera said no.

“Our endgame, quite frankly, was not legislation,” said Lopera, pointing out that the members of the Health Equity Compact may accomplish the most change by advocating within their own individual organizations.

“This work is never going to be something that’s short-term,” said Minter-Jordan. “We’re in this for the long haul.” 



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Documentation breakdown: MBTA interim General Manager Jeff Gonneville blames a documentation breakdown at the agency for the slowdown on the entire subway system, which started to ease a bit on Friday and may ease more today. Read more.


The Hattis agenda: Paul Hattis of the Lown Institute lays out his agenda for the Health Policy Commission’s health cost benchmark hearings. Read more.

Defining competitiveness: Mohamad Ali of IDG Inc. and Anne Margulies, formerly of Harvard, jump into the debate over how to make the state more competitive. Read more.

Pharmacy discounts questioned: Beverly Goodell of the Lupus Foundation of New England says a discount isn’t a discount when dealing with pharmacy benefit managers. Read more.

Decarbonization effort defended: Joe Curtatone, Daniel Sosland, and Larry Chretien correct the record on decarbonization in Massachusetts. Read more.

More renewables, less gas: Deb Pasternak of the Massachusetts Sierra Club says more renewables, not more gas, must be the state’s and the region’s future. Read more.



State auditor Diana DiZoglio is making the risky move of biting the hand that feeds her by announcing she’ll conduct an audit of the Legislature, which controls the purse strings on her office (and everything else in state government). (Boston Globe) Herald columnist Peter Lucas says Beacon Hill better get ready for disruption. 

Two versions of the $282 million supplemental budget proposed by Maura Healey will be hashed out in conference committee, with emergency shelter funding at stake, now that both houses of the Legislature have acted on it. (Worcester Telegram)


Boston Mayor Michelle Wu seems to be notching one win after another, even when the City Council seems unified behind a different position on an issue. (Boston Globe)  

Windsor, a tiny town in western Massachusetts, is getting younger, and attracting more families with the help of good schools, better amenities, and high-speed internet. (Berkshire Eagle)

New Bedford jumps into the rent control debate with a proposed non-binding ballot question to gauge voter support for the controversial subject. (New Bedford Standard-Times)


Telehealth, which took off during the pandemic, aided by emergency measures governing  reimbursements and other issues, is adjusting to the post-pandemic rules. (Boston Globe)


Legal advocates press Attorney General Andrea Campbell to investigate civil rights violations against immigrants being held at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. (GBH)


“The banking system is safe,” President Biden said Monday morning in remarks aimed at reassuring depositors and heading off a financial crisis following Friday’s failure of Silicon Valley Bank. (Washington Post) Gov. Maura Healey’s administration is trying to assess the statewide impacts of the second biggest bank failure in US history, as branches reopen on Monday morning. (MassLive) Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in a New York Times op-ed, says the bank failure was a direct consequence of the Trump administration’s 2018 move, with bipartisan support, to weaken the Dodd-Frank Act’s regulation of financial institutions. 


The University of Rhode Island will remove from its library facade an excerpt of a Malcolm X quote that sparked protests because a phrase in the original quote about “battling the white man” was omitted. (Associated Press)


Massachusetts can claim a bit of the glow from the dominant “Everything Everywhere All At Once” Oscars wins – the two directors, Westborough native Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, met as undergraduate students at Boston’s Emerson College. (


Former state rep Anthony Verga Sr., who also served as executive director of the Gloucester Fisheries Commission, died at 87. (Eagle-Tribune)