Underfunding of Federal Efforts to Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Show Lack of Seriousness, Former Surgeon General Says
Federal efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care are underfunded and indicate a lack of seriousness about accomplishing the goal, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said last month during a Kaiser Family Foundation webcast discussion, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to Satcher, if the U.S. was "serious about eliminating disparities in health" and "improving health of minorities, then we would adequately fund these programs. And we're nowhere close to adequate."
Satcher said recent progress in ending disparities includes the creation of the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities at NIH and the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program at CDC. Satcher also noted that the federal government has implemented several helpful "processes," including a 2002 Institute of Medicine report on disparities, an annual report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality on disparities and the goals in the "Healthy People 2010" document.
Satcher also said that while access to care is important, there are other reasons for disparities in health, including behavior, and social and physical environment.
According to CQ HealthBeat, other panelists "said legislation in 2008 or 2009 could aid efforts to reduce disparities," such as better collection of data on the nature of disparities. The panel also included Dora Hughes, health and education policy adviser to presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.); Sean McCluskie, legislative director for Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.); and Garth Graham, head of the Office of Minority Health at HHS. (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 12/21/07).
The webcast is available online at kaisernetwork.org.