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Efforts To Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Disparities In Health Care Show Lack Of Seriousness

Armen Hareyan's picture

Federal efforts toeliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care are underfunded andindicate a lack of seriousness about accomplishing the goal, former U.S.Surgeon General David Satcher said last month during a Kaiser Family Foundation webcast discussion, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to Satcher, ifthe U.S.was "serious about eliminating disparities in health" and"improving health of minorities, then we would adequately fund theseprograms. And we're nowhere close to adequate."

Satcher said recent progress in ending disparities includes the creation of theNational Center for Minority Health and HealthDisparities at NIH and theRacial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program at CDC. Satcheralso noted that the federal government has implemented several helpful"processes," including a 2002 Institute ofMedicine report ondisparities, an annual report by the Agency forHealthcare Research and Quality on disparities and the goals in the "Healthy People 2010"document.

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Satcher also said that while access to care is important, there are otherreasons for disparities in health, including behavior, and social and physicalenvironment.

According to CQ HealthBeat, other panelists "said legislationin 2008 or 2009 could aid efforts to reduce disparities," such as bettercollection of data on the nature of disparities. The panel also included DoraHughes, health and education policy adviser to presidential candidate Sen. BarackObama (D-Ill.); Sean McCluskie, legislative director for Rep. Xavier Becerra(D-Calif.); and Garth Graham, head of the Office ofMinority Health at HHS. (Reichard,CQ HealthBeat, 12/21/07).

Reprinted with permissionfrom kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.