Massachusetts in Need of Agency to Track Racial Health Data To Reduce Disparities in Care, Report States
Blacks and Hispanics in Massachusetts are less likely to have private health insurance than white residents, according to a study released on Wednesday by the state's Commission to End Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, the Boston Globe reports. The legislatively mandated study examined the medical, social and economic roots of disparities.
The study recommends that Massachusetts establish the Center for the Elimination of Health Disparities to track and study racial and ethnic health disparities among residents, and to reduce gaps in care. The agency would initially be part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. State Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D), chair of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health, said he anticipates that the center eventually would become an independent agency and have authority similar to that of the inspector general. Koutoujian said health care disparities are "the most important health crisis we are facing" in the state (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/9).
The proposed Center for the Elimination of Health Disparities "should be funded on a trial basis to see if an umbrella agency can really help existing programs do more than they do on their own," a South Coast Today editorial states. "At first glance, a new state office might seem redundant," the editorial adds, but Koutoujian "rightly argues that piecemeal approaches have not fully solved the problem."
The editorial continues that a "broad-based campaign would be an innovative approach," but "it could easily become unwieldy as it seeks to address virtually all social ills that influence health." The state Legislature "should bear in mind" as it debates funding the proposed center "that coordinating a war on inadequate health care across so many battlefronts will be a gargantuan task," the South Coast Today editorial states (South Coast Today, 8/9).