Reports from the White House And Kaiser Family Foundation Address Health Care Disparities

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House Health Czar Nancy Ann DeParle held a discussion of minority health issues at the White House yesterday, where Sebelius "said the Obama administration is committed to addressing the 'alarming disparity in the delivery of quality health care'," which she said was necessary to lower costs, the Associated Press reports. The White House also "issued a summary report on minority health care showing that African-Americans are seven times more likely as whites to have HIV/AIDS, that blacks and Hispanics have diabetes rates nearly twice as high as whites, and that black men are 50 percent more likely than whites to have prostate cancer" (Evans, 6/9).

Kaiser Health News adds that "among the ideas bandied about from the two dozen stakeholder groups, ranging from the National Hispanic Medical Association and the NAACP to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition, were improving access to specialty care for minorities and making sure that doctors understand the patients they're dealing with culturally, economically and gender-specifically" (Villegas, 6/9).

A separate report released by the Connecticut Office of Health Care Access yesterday found that the "number of uninsured people seeking hospital care declined in fiscal year 2008," but "the cost of hospital stays for patients without insurance has soared more than 40 percent since 2005," the Hartford Courant reports. "Even with fewer uninsured, costs rose because hospital charges are increasing — typically 6 percent or more a year — and those without insurance are typically older and have more chronic illnesses." Cristine Vogel, commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Health Care Access, said hospitals are trying to register patients for a Medicaid program in order to avoid a lack of insurance. The report "broke down how uninsured hospital stays are distributed by race. Hispanics, about 12 percent of the state's population, account for about one quarter of uninsured hospital stays. Black people, about 10 percent of the population, represent 16 percent of the uninsured stays" (Gosselin, 6/10).

Meanwhile, The Washington Post details findings from a Kaiser Family Foundation study released today. The report  found, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a federal Current Population Survey, that "there is a large disparity in the incidence of certain chronic diseases between black and white women." The study reflected health statistics in the states and the District of Columbia (Fears, 6/10). 

"Women of color in every state, including Georgia, generally lag behind their white counterparts when it comes to health and access to care," according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, based on the report's findings. "Disparities exist across all states for basically all measures," said Cara V. James, lead author of “Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities on the Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level." She told the AJC that differences varied widely in some states. "In others, white women and women of color are struggling equally. James hopes the study will help states develop strategies to combat health inequities" (Poole, 6/10).

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