Issue: A health disparity is a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Racial and ethnic minorities still lag behind in many health outcome measures. They are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, 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. Disparities are documented in many conditions, including: cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, flu, infant mortality, cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic lower respiratory diseases, viral hepatitis, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, kidney disease, injury deaths, violence, behavioral health, and oral health.
Highlights: Within the framework of the HHS Action Plan, the five overall goals for reducing disparities and associated action steps include:
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 pipeline program for recruiting undergraduates from underserved communities for public health and biomedical sciences careers, expanding and improving health care interpreting and translation, and supporting more training of community health workers, such as promotoras.
3. Advance the Health, Safety and Well-Being of the American People: Action steps include implementing the CDC’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, and increasing patient-centered outcomes research.
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. Evaluations will measure progress toward reducing health disparities.
The Affordable Care Act offers the potential to meet these goals and address the needs of racial and ethnic minority populations.
Developed by: The Plan was developed in response to the National Stakeholder Strategy by senior HHS officials, through a process chaired by the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
Intended Use: To be used by HHS agencies to assess the impact of policies and programs on racial and ethnic health disparities, and to promote integrated approaches, evidence-based programs and best practices to reduce these disparities. Progress will be reviewed twice a year. The plan is operational immediately.
More Information: www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/npa