Maryland Officials Discuss Health Disparities Nationally, Locally
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D) last week criticized HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt for not addressing racial and ethnic health care disparities during his testimony on President Bush's fiscal year 2008 budget proposal and expressed disapproval for a proposed $135 million cut in funding to train minority health professionals, the Washington Examiner reports. Cardin noted specific concerns with health care disparities in Prince George's County, Md., but said that the "main thrust" of his argument is directed at the overall issue. Cynthia Saunders, an assistant professor who focuses on access to health care at the University of Maryland, said she believes Cardin is "right on," adding, "We need to continue studying this issue and make sure that we train more health providers who are minorities and who are really bicultural and bilingual." Saunders noted 2004-2005 statistics compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org, which show that although 28.5% of Maryland's population was black, compared to 12.1% nationwide, only 5.2% of the state's 2005 medical school graduates were black, compared to 6.6% nationwide. Acting Health Officer of Prince George's County Donald Shell said that "health care disparity issues are major concerns" of the predominantly black county. He added that the county addresses health care issues through community outreach, HIV testing and counseling, and by offering programs that target specific diseases such diabetes and cancer (Fowler, Washington Examiner, 2/19).