February 28, 2022
The Honorable Xavier Becerra
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Becerra,
As Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, I want to thank you for your commitment to prevent cardiovascular disease, via the Million Hearts initiative co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). I know your agencies have numerous other initiatives under way to address this important issue. Furthermore, I applaud President Biden’s commitment to addressing racial disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and his proclamation of February 2022 as American Heart Month.
Every year, 800,000 people, or 1 in 3 Americans, die of CVD in the United States. Unfortunately, there are 100 million people living with CVD, millions of whom are undiagnosed and untreated. The lack of diagnoses, partially resulting from insufficient screening, has been exacerbated during the global pandemic. During the pandemic, cholesterol screenings were down more than 35 percent in the U.S., with a staggering decline of 71.8% during the early stages from March through mid-June 2020 at Mass General Brigham health system . This raises some concerns that a different public health crisis – a spike in CVD events – will emerge if patients are unable to get properly screened and diagnosed.Read Full Letter