Blog: National Partnership for Action
Posted on 3/11/2014 by Kathleen Sebelius
Women’s History Month reminds us to pay tribute to the generations of women who have contributed to the growth of our nation, in public and private life. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and recognize the extraordinary achievements women have made throughout history, I’d also like to reflect on the accomplishments the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made over the last year to improve the lives of women and girls.
As you can see, it’s been a busy but exciting year — and these are just our top five highlights in women’s and girls’ health! I look forward to continuing our momentum as champions for the wellbeing of all Americans. Learn more about how we’re expanding access to quality care by visiting HealthCare.gov.
Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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Posted on 3/10/2014 by By Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA
“In short, we urge the nation’s leaders to embrace the idea that an economically vibrant and sustainable American future depends, almost wholly, on a broader vision for equity, one that recognizes that lifting up the least of us will lift up all of us.” Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future; Blackwell, Kwoh, Pastor; 2010.
At CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), we are winding up the celebration of our 25th anniversary. The centerpiece of our celebration has been an exhibit at CDC’s David J. Sencer Museum titled “Health Is a Human Right: Race and Place in America.” The exhibit was designed to “show the faces” behind the data, contextualize health disparities within community-driven social movements and the social determinants of health1, and highlight strategic federal initiatives implemented to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities over the past 120 years.
Since its opening at the end of September 2013, more than 21,000 people have visited the exhibit. Through the exhibit, we attempt to share some of the histories of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians & Other Pacific Islanders, and selected events that contributed to the historical patterning of health disparities in communities of color. There are examples of community interventions and policy initiatives that have contributed to better health outcomes in these communities. Yet, as the exhibit demonstrates, good health is not achieved in a vacuum. Read the full post on the Conversations in Equity blog.
Short blurb for the blog home page: At CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), we are winding up the celebration of our 25th anniversary. The centerpiece of our celebration has been an exhibit at CDC’s David J. Sencer Museum titled “Health Is a Human Right: Race and Place in America.”
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Posted on 1/15/2014 by Sheila L. Thorne,Region II Health Equity Council
On an icy and snowy Tuesday morning, it took me two hours to get to the Delaney Hall Detention Facility, a halfway house in Newark, New Jersey located next to the Essex County jail on Doremus Street. I was invited by Councilwoman Mary Am Bey of Newark’s West Ward to present information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at Delaney Hall, where approximately 1,250 low-level, non-violent offenders begin the process of reintegration back into society.
I agreed to speak with this group, understanding that marginalized populations - including those who were previously incarcerated - are often the last to receive education and information about services that are available to them.
I passed through a rigorous security process at Delaney Hall: I got clearance to bring in my laptop and LCD projector for the PowerPoint presentation, gave up my ID, cell phone and charger, and was escorted by several officers into a large conference room.
The doors opened to a huge group of 300 men transitioning out of the prison system, ranging in age from early twenties to 50+ and including a smattering of veterans. As I set up, you could hear a pin drop. Councilwoman Bey introduced me and I began my psentation to the attentive crowd, making a few initial jokes to break the ice.
To my surprise and delight, the next two and a half hours were filled with jokes, laughter and excellent questions – the time passed quickly! It was no surprise that the majority of those in attendance were African American and Hispanic; both population groups are incarcerated at seven and three times the rate of Whites respectively. Most didn't know anything about the ACA, and by a show of hands, some had never heard of it. Participants even took notes and wrote on the few brochures that I had.
They were polite, friendly, and funny; giving me two standing ovations and telling me “thank you” and “God bless you” out of gratitude for the information. Many stayed behind and asked how they could get this information to their families, girlfriends, wives, brothers, sisters, and the mothers of their children. Many of the men expressed strong interest in information about their children’s eligibility for affordable health insurance under the ACA--especially pediatric dental care for those eligible under private plans.
The word spread quickly about my presentation – before leaving I was approached by others who heard that the presentation was really good and wanted to learn about the ACA. Councilwoman Bey asked me to come back to speak to another group of the same size in January. I am currently working with her to schedule a longer session with this next group. I also plan on bringing navigators with me who would be prepared to enroll on site, particularly for Medicaid.
As I made my way home in the snow, I reflected on the importance of educating re-entry populations about health care. Of the two million Americans who are serving time in prison, sixteen percent have a mental illness and three out of four have substance abuse problems. There is a need for returning citizens to continue treatment for conditions such as substance abuse that may otherwise trigger the same behavior that sent them to prison in the first place and increase recidivism.
Our returning neighbors and community members currently lack access to health care information. A handful of communities in each state receive the majority of returnees from the correctional system, constituting a specific need for health care education among re-entry populations. For example, a recent report by the Re-Entry Policy Council states that15% of neighborhoods in Baltimore receive 56% of the people released from Maryland state prisons.
Many are unaware that they may now meet eligibility requirements for care as a result of Medicaid expansion. Beginning in 2014, Medicaid will cover treatment for mental illness and substance abuse, which will benefit many individuals transitioning out of the prison system.
I invite other advocates to join me in educating our returning community members, leveraging connections with the faith community and elected officials to plan and conduct outreach sessions. It is critical that we continue providing education about the ACA to this population so that they are able to access affordable treatment and re-enter their communities with one less barrier on the road to success.
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Posted on 1/6/2014 by Mayra E Alvarez MHA, Associate Director, Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services
As a little girl, I always looked forward to January 6th. For many of my friends, their holiday celebrations had finished and Santa Claus was already at the North Pole busy preparing for the next holiday season. But for my sisters and me, and many others in the Latino community, the gift-giving wasn’t over since we still had Three Kings’ Day to celebrate. And this year is no different.
But, this year, as the gift-giving continues, there is one special gift that’s now available: the gift of access to health insurance coverage for millions of Latinos through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Every year, our family would celebrate the religious holiday by gathering at the home of one of our loved ones, exchanging stories about the holiday season, and enjoying delicious treats like hot chocolate and Three Kings’ bread. This year, if you gather with your family and friends to enjoy the Kings’ Bread, make it a point to talk about the importance of health insurance coverage and how they can find it at the Health Insurance Marketplace. Consumers can apply for coverage in the Marketplace in several ways: online at HealthCare.gov or CuidadodeSalud.gov; over the phone by calling the 24/7 customer service center (1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325 available in English and Spanish, and with translation in 150 other languages); working with a trained person in your local community (Find Local Help); or by submitting a paper application by mail. You can download the paperapplication form and instructions from HealthCare.gov.
At every Three Kings’ Day, we were always anxious to see who would find the baby Jesus figurine hidden within the bread! After all, that person was always expected to throw another party on the Day of the Candles on February 2! This year, for many of the newly insured, it will be the first time that they can find the security that comes with health coverage and lose the anxiety and worry that comes without it. In all, 6 million people have enrolled in Marketplace or Medicaid coverage since the Marketplaces opened for enrollment. At our Three Kings’ Day celebrations, let’s encourage those who we know are newly insured to call to make their first medical appointment by February 2! For consumers with questions about their new private insurance coverage that began on January 1, they can contact their insurance company directly or check out this tip sheet and read these consumer tips. By the time the party comes around, you can celebrate having made your appointment.
Last night, many children placed their shoes on their windowsill and went to bed, anxiously awaiting the morning to open their gifts. As a community, we can help give more gifts by working together to ensure that every eligible Latino who wants to enroll in Marketplace coverage by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31st, 2014, is able to do so—and enjoy the security and peace of mind that comes with having quality health coverage. This is a gift that will keep on giving! Happy Three Kings’ Day!
Don’t forget to follow the online conversation on the Affordable Care Act and Latinos by using the #OurSalud hashtag or following @HHSLatino
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Posted on 12/30/2013 by J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE
As 2013 comes to a close, it is with great pleasure that I share with you the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) 2013 Report to Congress on Minority Health Activities . As called for under Section 10334 of the Affordable Care Act, the biennial Report to Congress on Minority Health Activities summarizes the programs, policies, and initiatives of agencies across HHS that address minority health and health disparities. This 2013 Report to Congress demonstrates our Department’s commitment to eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity. Since the inaugural 2011 Report to Congress, all of the individual Offices of Minority Health have been established, and the leadership of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has appointed permanent directors of their respective Offices of Minority Health. In addition, the Office of Minority Health has been elevated to the Office of the Secretary and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities within the National Institutes of Health has been elevated to an Institute. Together, the directors of the Offices of Minority Health and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, along with the HHS Health Disparities Council, are providing strategic coordination of HHS efforts in disparities reduction and health equity. Furthermore, under the leadership of our Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, HHS released its first-ever Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in 2011. The HHS Disparities Action Plan is the most comprehensive federal commitment to reducing health disparities and charges all HHS agencies and offices to heighten the impact of their policies and programs to reduce health disparities. This strategic action plan builds on the foundation of the Affordable Care Act with the goals of transforming health care, strengthening the nation’s health and human services infrastructure and workforce, advancing the health, safety and well-being of the American people, advancing scientific knowledge and innovation, and increasing the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of HHS programs. It represents an unprecedented time of coordination and collaboration across the Department and with our partners to achieve the vision of “a nation free of disparities in health and health care”. In this time of historic transformation of health and health care in our nation, we face a remarkable moment of opportunity to end health disparities that have impacted minority communities for far too long and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential for health. To read the 2013 Report to Congress on Minority Health Activities, please click here.
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About the Blog
The NPA works to achieve health equity -- the highest level of health for all people. This blog is a venue for professionals from all fields and sectors to share their thoughts on pressing issues, news and events pertaining to health equity. Follow and participate in this candid discussion.
Recent Blog Posts
→ Our Year in Review: Accomplishments in Women’s Health
→ Making Things Right
→ From Corrections to Affordable Health Care: Empowering Our Returning Community Members
→ The Celebration Continues: Three Kings Day and the Health Insurance Marketplace
→ 2013 Report to Congress on Minority Health Activities
→ Making the Grade: A Report Card for Health Equity
→ Health Atlas for the City of Los Angeles’s Health and Wellness Chapter
→ Changing the Prognosis for Sickle Cell Disease through the Affordable Care Act
→ Winning the battle against health disparities through new technology
→ Improving Data Collection on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health