Tuesday, January 10, 2006

National Healthcare Disparities Report

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health calls our attention to the newly issued National Healthcare Disparities Report prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (highlights here). According to the Alliance's press release:

Among the worsening disparities for Hispanics (compared to non-Hispanic whites) reported by DHHS today were:
• Declines in diabetes care quality (at the same time it improved for non-Hispanic whites);
• Higher rates of new HIV/AIDS cases experienced by Hispanics;
• Disparities in access to mental health treatment for serious mental illness;
• Longer and more frequent delays in illness/injury care for Hispanic patients; and
• Lack of smoking cessation counseling for hospitalized Hispanic smokers.
The report documents disparities for other groups, including Asians vs. whites, Native Americans vs. whites, African-Americans vs. whites, and poor vs. rich. For African-Americans vs. whites, for example, an even higher rate of new HIV/AIDS cases is documented. The report itself makes no proposals for remedying the healthcare disparities that it documents. However, the Alliance has issued a 5-point plan for remedying the healthcare disparities documented for Hispanics.
  • Point 1. Working within the already agreed funding set for CDC by Congress for Fiscal Year 2006, reconfigure funds to achieve a doubling of the budget for Hispanic community based services with the majority of funds supporting an expansion of Hispanic services within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • Point 2. Establish an adequate budget within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to deliver counseling and outreach services through Hispanic community based agencies and achieve 100% sign-up of Hispanic children and adults eligible for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program but not signed up for the program.
  • Point 3. Issue a report on the costs and authorities required to expand eligibility under the Children’s Health Insurance Program to the parents of eligible children up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Point 4. Establish a model for a specific billing code for private insurers to reimburse certified medical interpreters and issue a report on the costs and authorities needed to implement the billing code under federally supported programs (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP).
  • Point 5. Release National Institutes of Health (NIH) data on the number of supported Hispanic principal investigators (PIs), the budget for Hispanic community education programs, and a plan for doubling the budget for Hispanic community education by the next fiscal year in each Institute and Center.

Where are the 5 (or 7) Point Plans for the other groups?

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