In this Issue:
Activities in the Field
President Bush's Budget
Children's Health Coverage
Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its popular resource, Key Facts: Race, Ethnicity & Medical Care, 2007 Update, which serves as a quick reference source on health disparities and presents the newest available data and analysis.
The Commonwealth Fund’s new report, Enhancing Public Hospitals' Reporting of Data on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, determines that it is possible to collect data on health care quality by race and ethnicity, which could help hospitals develop targeted efforts to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities based on quality of care. The Commonwealth Fund has also recently released Providing Language Services in State and Local Health-Related Benefits Offices: Examples from the Field. The report outlines an eight-step approach to helping benefits offices develop language strategies tailored to their clients' specific needs, illustrating each step with promising practices collected from across the country.
Incenter Strategies has published two new fact sheets: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Adolescent Health and Access to Care and Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Access to Care among Older Adolescents.
The Disparities Solution Center will be sponsoring a disparities leadership program in 2007. The disparities leadership program is a yea-long executive education program designed for leaders in the health field who wish to implement practical strategies to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. To learn more about the program, please download the DLP Request for Applications. Applications are due by March 1, 2007. The Disparities Solution Center also sponsors the Aetna/Disparities Solutions Center (DSC) HealthCare Disparities Fellowship, which is designed to prepare health care professionals to develop strategies to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Applications are due by March 15, 2007.
Alliance for Health Reform, along with the National Academy of Social Insurance, have recently posted transcripts and a webcast of their event Bridging the Divide: Medicare’s Role in Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Participants at the event discussed a growing body of evidence that indicates that there are disparities in the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as how Medicare should use its influence as a large health care payer to move toward eliminating disparities.
UCSF Center for Health Professions and The National Fund for Medical Education published a report titled Advancing Community Health Worker Practice and Utilization: The Focus on Financing. The report explores sustainable financing mechanisms for community health workers, which could provide a more stable and defined role within mainstream health care systems.
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The Opportunity Agenda, a communications, research, and advocacy organization with offices in both Washington, D.C. and New York, has made it their mission to expose societal barriers to opportunity, including racial and gender bias, over-reliance on prisons, and lack of access to health care.
Making innovative use of new media outlets such as iTunes, YouTube, and Google Maps, The Opportunity Agenda seeks to educate people about health care injustices by highlighting health disparities and inequities in access to care.
Their latest health care project, a Web site called Health Care That Works, focuses specifically on demonstrating the disproportionate number of hospital closures in New York City’s low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, and exposes the inequities of recommendations released by the New York State Commission on Healthcare Facilities to close more facilities in these already underserved areas. To provide a visual history of these closures, the Health Care That Works site spotlights a Google Map that displays hospital closures in New York City with an overlay of racial demographics and poverty levels over the past 20 years.
The Opportunity Agenda’s main Web site presents other valuable resources that demonstrate the health inequities in New York, including fact sheets and a full report. You can also log on to Opportunity TV, The Opportunity Agenda’s YouTube station, to watch, among other clips, “Central Brooklyn Health,” a video documenting the effects of hospital closures in Brooklyn on communities of color, and witness how expanded closures recommended by the New York State Commission on Healthcare Facilities may further harm these communities.
Aside from their work on New York-based health issues, The Opportunity Agenda has focused attention on the broader issue of health equity in relation to poverty, race, and disparities. You can find frank and open dialogues on the subject on their blog, as well as on Opportunity Radio, an iTunes podcast.
To learn more about The Opportunity Agenda and their work, please contact Beatrice Alvarez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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President Bush’s Budget
On February 5, President Bush released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2008. As in previous years, the President’s budget proposes deep cuts to Medicaid that could result in more people losing health coverage. What’s more, the proposed budget would cut children’s health coverage at a time when many policymakers are seeking to expand coverage through the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Because racial and ethnic minorities are much more likely to rely on Medicaid and SCHIP for health coverage, any cuts to these programs would disproportionately hurt minority health.
In addition to cuts that would threaten health coverage, the President’s budget also proposes to cut funding for the Office of Minority Health and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The Office of Minority Health plays a critical role in coordinating public efforts to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. The National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities provides funding for research on health disparities to improve minority health. This is the second year in a row that the President has sought to reduce funding for these programs, reflecting the Administration’s lack of commitment to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.
Children’s Health Coverage
Encouraging discussions are beginning to take place in Congress about reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and expanding access to affordable health coverage for children. There are roughly 9 million uninsured children in the U.S. today. Among those children, six out of 10 belong to a racial or ethnic minority group. Making sure that SCHIP has sufficient funding to cover all children who are eligible for the program will be critical to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care.
On February 16, Representative Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) proposed the Healthy Kids Act of 2007. The proposal seeks to reauthorize SCHIP and expand health coverage to millions of children who are currently eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP but not enrolled. The proposal also recommends creating an advanceable, refundable tax credit for moderate-income families (families with incomes above their state’s SCHIP eligibility level but below 300 percent of the federal poverty level) to purchase health insurance for their children. This approach to expanding children’s coverage closely resembles the proposal released by the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured last month.
In the next few months, several other members of Congress are expected to introduce legislation to reauthorize SCHIP. We will be analyzing these proposals closely to make sure that they meet the goals of expanding children’s health coverage and reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care.
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- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health Minority Student Caucus is hosting its 28th Annual Minority Health Conference on Friday, February 23, 2007. Although registration is closed, you can watch the keynote speech, "AIDS at 25: Emerging from the Matrix," presented by David J. Malebranche, on c-band satellite and via webcast at 2:00 pm EST. There will also be a live call-in and e-mail discussion with him until 3:30 pm EST.
- California Program on Access to Care and the California Office of the Patient Advocate will be hosting a policy briefing, “Access, Quality and Utilization of Care in California's HMOs,” on Tuesday February 27, 2007, from 1:00- 3:30 pm in the California State Legislative office building in Sacramento. For more information, e-mail Tanya.Barretto@ucop.edu.
- Oakwood HealthCare Systems will be hosting a day-long seminar, "Cultural Competency: On the Road to Best Practices," on Wednesday March 7, 2007, at the Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan.
- Health Care for All will be hosting their annual policy and organizing conference, “New Challenges, New Opportunities,” on Friday March 30, 2007, at the Doubletree Westborough in Westborough, Massachusetts.
We’d like to hear from you!
If you would like to see your organization or event highlighted in a future edition of our newsletter, please send us a brief description of your organization and its activities, as well as your contact information. We also welcome guest authors for the Activities in the Field section of the newsletter. This section provides members of the minority health field with the opportunity to share their experiences and insights with other advocates. Please send all correspondence to: email@example.com.
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