Tuesday, June 16, 2009

HHS report highlights minority health disparities

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United States spends more than any other nation in the world on health care, in 2007 we spent $2.2 trillion, and despite consistent increases in spending, disparities among demographic groups persist. Low-income Americans and racial and ethnic minorities experience disproportionately higher rates of disease, fewer treatment options, and reduced access to care. With unemployment on the rise, the disparities already apparent among these groups will continue to increase, the HHS said. The agency said it is vital that health reform reduces costs to make health care affordable; protects a patient's choice of doctors, hospitals, and insurance plans; invests in prevention and wellness; and assures quality, affordable health care.

At a news briefing following the release of the report, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus announced their reform priorities for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. The groups called for elevating the National Institutes of Health’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and strengthening HHS’ Office of Minority Health. They also called for a public health insurance plan option and adequate reimbursement for language and translation services.