Racial Health Data Tracking To Reduce Disparities In Care

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Blacks and Hispanics in Massachusetts are less likely to haveprivate health insurance than white residents, according to a studyreleased on Wednesday by the state's Commission to End Racial andEthnic Health Disparities, the Boston Globe reports. The legislatively mandated study examined the medical, social and economic roots of disparities.

Thestudy recommends that Massachusetts establish the Center for theElimination of Health Disparities to track and study racial and ethnichealth disparities among residents, and to reduce gaps in care. Theagency would initially be part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.State Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D), chair of the Legislature's JointCommittee on Public Health, said he anticipates that the centereventually would become an independent agency and have authoritysimilar to that of the inspector general. Koutoujian said health caredisparities are "the most important health crisis we are facing" in thestate (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/9).

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Editorial

The proposed Center for the Elimination of Health Disparities "shouldbe funded on a trial basis to see if an umbrella agency can really helpexisting programs do more than they do on their own," a South Coast Todayeditorial states. "At first glance, a new state office might seemredundant," the editorial adds, but Koutoujian "rightly argues thatpiecemeal approaches have not fully solved the problem."

Theeditorial continues that a "broad-based campaign would be an innovativeapproach," but "it could easily become unwieldy as it seeks to addressvirtually all social ills that influence health." The state Legislature"should bear in mind" as it debates funding the proposed center "thatcoordinating a war on inadequate health care across so manybattlefronts will be a gargantuan task," the South Coast Today editorial states (South Coast Today, 8/9).

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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserWeekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives,and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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