Realizing that too often African-Americans are suffering from diseases at a greater rate than white Americans and also get poorer health care, the federal government Friday announced two strategic plans aimed at reducing health disparities.
Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, are more likely to suffer from serious illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease, and when they do get sick, are less likely to have access to quality health care, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The HHS action plan includes steps to expand insurance coverage and increase access to medical care for minorities. The action plan also seeks to increase the number of students from populations underrepresented in the health professions and train community workers to help people navigate the system.
HHS also released a set of goals and objectives for public and private sector initiatives and partnerships to help racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved groups reach their full health potential.
Five goals for reducing disparities and associated action steps:
1. Transform Health Care: Action steps include expanding insurance coverage, increasing access to care through development of new service delivery sites and introducing quality initiatives such as increased utilization of medical homes.
2. Strengthen the Nation’s Health and Human Services Workforce: Action steps include a new program for recruiting undergraduates from underserved communities for public health and biomedical sciences careers and supporting more training of community health workers.
3. Advance the Health, Safety and Well-Being of the American People: Action steps include implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new Community Transformation Grants, and additional targeted efforts to achieve improvements in cardiovascular disease, childhood obesity, tobacco-related diseases, maternal and child health, flu and asthma.
4. Advance Scientific Knowledge and Innovation: Action steps include implementing a new health data collection and analysis strategy authorized by the Affordable Care Act.
5. Increase the Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability of HHS Programs: Actions steps include ensuring that assessments of policies and programs on health disparities will become part of all HHS decision-making.
(Photo: Times-Picayune /Landov)