Connecticut Conference Aims To Reduce Health Disparities Among Minority Communities by 2010
The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut on Tuesday began the fourth annual, three-day New England Regional Minority Health Conference, focusing on how to reduce health disparities among minority communities in the state by 2010, the New London Day reports. The conference was organized by the state Department of Public Health and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. Juan Figueroa, president of the foundation, in his keynote address said that the "biggest" health care disparity in the state is number of blacks and Hispanics who are uninsured. He said that of the state's 350,000 to 400,000 uninsured residents, 18% are black and 30% are Hispanic. Blacks make up 10% and Hispanics account for 10.5% of the state's population, he said. Figueroa said the lawmakers are considering proposals to extend health care coverage to the uninsured, and he called for equal access to high-quality health insurance. He said, "So while we rush to get everyone insured, let's make sure the insurance is not second-class." Figueroa said, "I think the No. 1 civil-rights issue in the 21st century is health care disparities. We need to make eliminating disparities a front-and-center issue." Nancy Berger, director of multicultural health for the state health department, said, "Even though we are a wealthy state, we, like the others, have big differences in the health outcomes of different groups." She noted that diabetes rates among blacks, Hispanics and American Indians in the state are twice as high as they are for whites. The disparities are attributed to a "complex mix of factors," including access to care and transportation and language and cultural barriers, according to the Day. Berger said the overall purpose of the conference is to help providers answer the question: "How can we change our approach to incorporate the needs of populations not getting the services they need?" (Benson, New London Day, 4/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.