A task force established by state law last summer to address health disparities for underserved or underrepresented populations during the COVID-19 pandemic is due to submit final recommendations to the Legislature by early March.

The Health Equity Task Force filed an interim report last October focusing on the fiscal 2021 state budget and policy priorities that would reflect urgent steps needed to guide an equitable response to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and responding to disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations.

In preparation for its final recommendations, the task force held two public hearings in early February.

In a Feb. 12 letter to the task force, the MMA noted that the report is due at “a pivotal juncture” in the fight against the pandemic — in the early stages of the vaccination process — and, therefore, will not be able to offer “a thorough review of any observed disparities in the public vaccination process” or identify interventions that could eliminate these disparities.

“It seems that you may only be able to provide an early snapshot, and questions such as vaccine acceptance rates and delivery challenges will likely remain open beyond that point,” the MMA wrote. “It is also clear from a range of health studies that many of the long-term health effects of COVID-19 and the cascading impact on other complex medical conditions, as well as on overall family health, are still unknown.”

The MMA recommended that a long-term independent agency be set up to “engage relevant stakeholders, including municipalities, in their review of the public health impacts of the pandemic as they relate to equity so we can be better prepared for future pandemics.”

The task force was established by Chapter 93 of the Acts of 2020.

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