Delaware Task Force Issues Recommendations To Address Health Disparities Between Whites, Minorities
The Delaware Governor's Task Force on Health Disparities on Wednesday released a set of recommendations to address racial disparities in health care and disease rates, the Wilmington News Journal reports. The task force was created in May 2005 by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) in response to a statewide conference that found gaps in access to care and disease rates for minorities.
In its report, the task force recommended that SCHIP be expanded to include parents of children currently enrolled in the program. Minner's proposed state budget includes $1 million to cover parents through the program, which would be matched with $2 million in federal funds, according to Lt. Gov. John Carney (D), co-chair of the task force. The task force also recommended that the state collect demographic data on patients to provide public health officials with a more detailed understanding of health disparities, which probably would require a legislative mandate, Carney said.
In addition, the task force recommended that the state create "chronic care specialty teams" composed of nurses, social workers and patient advocates for medical practices that serve mostly minority populations to help patients manage their chronic diseases. The task force also recommended Spanish-language training for 200 to 300 health care providers to help them to better communicate with Spanish-speaking patients.
Lisa Barkley, co-chair of the task force's "social context" committee, said any effort to address health disparities must look at billboards, grocery stores, public parks and safe neighborhoods or there will not be "an impact on [minorities'] health." The social context committee recommended that Delaware offer incentives to grocery stores, fresh-food markets and community gardens to open in neighborhoods with the greatest health needs. It also suggested limiting billboards and other advertising that promote unhealthy lifestyles in neighborhoods with poor health (Chalmers, Wilmington News Journal, 6/21).