Presidential Candidate Advisers Discuss Strategies To Address Health Care Disparities Among Hispanics
Advisers to all three major presidential candidates on Friday discussed proposals to address health care disparities at an event sponsored by the National Hispanic Medical Association, CQ HealthBeat reports. About one-third of U.S. Hispanics do not have health insurance, according to NHMA President Elena Rios. HHS data indicate that Hispanics also face the largest disparity in health care of all ethnic and racial groups, according to CQ HealthBeat
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior health care adviser to presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), said that health care is "America's biggest domestic policy problem" and that McCain would focus on making care more affordable. He said, "If we don't address the cost issue, any other victory ... will be short-lived." McCain would replace a tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with a refundable tax credit for the purchase of private coverage, as well as focus on preventive care and quality improvement, Holtz-Eakin said.
Chris Jennings, an adviser to Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), said, "You cannot ensure access to quality if you don't have access to coverage." He added, "You've got to have everyone in the same system so everyone can contribute to it and everyone gets covered when they are sick." Clinton would mandate that all residents obtain health insurance, Jennings said. He added that health education should include more cultural and linguistic competency to make Hispanics more comfortable when they speak with health care professionals. In addition, he suggested increasing mandatory spending for public hospitals and community health centers that provide care for undocumented immigrants. "We just can't pretend those populations don't exist," Jennings said.
Kavita Patel, an adviser to Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), said that Obama would seek to diversify the health care profession. The background of health care professionals "influences what they choose to do and where they choose to practice," according to Patel. She added, "Primary care and prevention are not rewarded in the system ... When there's no incentive in place, it's hard to do right by patients." Obama would seek to make health insurance more affordable to allow more residents to purchase coverage, Patel said. She added that Obama would seek to expand programs that help students interested in health care professions pay for school (Nylen, CQ HealthBeat, 4/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.