April 24, 2012 (Revised May 8, 2012)
Contact: Anne Prince
Experts Call for Consumer-Oriented Healthcare System, Recognize Champions at National Health Disparities Summit
Senator Daniel Akaka, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, and Boston Scientific Honored
WASHINGTON, DC: The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) in collaboration and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the CBC Health Braintrust, convened elite opinion leaders, Members of Congress and senior industry representatives to discuss challenges and solutions to healthcare disparities—the poor quality of health of minority populations compared with the white majority, and the lower quality of care that is provided to them. Senator Daniel Akaka, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and others were recognized for their courage and strong leadership in fighting health disparities.
“Our healthcare system is not built to provide optimal care to a diverse population. The problem begins with the under-recruitment of minorities in clinical trials and extends to minority-serving hospitals, many of which are struggling to survive,” observed Dr. Gary Puckrein, founder and CEO of NMQF (www.nmqf.org). The Summit addressed teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, health equity research issues and the importance of health information technology. Healthcare leaders remarked that there have been many successes in the past two years due to healthcare reform. Dr. Puckrein called on the leaders assembled to build on the success by working towards a, “consumer-oriented healthcare system in which the market responds not to government edicts, but to the needs and preferences of all consumers, including minorities.”
While health disparities continue to exist for every health parameter, the context for healthcare disparities is changing. Minorities constitute an emerging majority: 40 percent of the U.S. population by 2020, 50 percent by 2050. White, non-Hispanics are currently 66 percent of the population, yet their care absorbs 80 percent of health care spending, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.
The Summit honored four dedicated Americans for their deep commitment and lasting contributions to the United States in the area of healthcare: Senator Daniel Akaka, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and James R. Gavin, MD, PhD. In addition, the Charles Richard Drew Award was given to Boston Scientific for its “Close the Gap Initiative.” “Each of these honorees, along with Boston Scientific, have worked tirelessly to end health disparities. They have dedicated their lives and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ensure the health and safety of all Americans, regardless of age, gender, income or ethnicity. On behalf of the underserved populations who have benefited from their actions we express our heartfelt appreciation for their efforts,” concluded Dr. Gary Puckrein, host of the Summit and CEO of National Minority Quality Forum (www.nmqf.org).
The National Minority Quality Forum (www.nmqf.org) is a non-profit healthcare research and educational organization dedicated to the elimination of health disparities. The Forum supports national and local efforts to eliminate the disproportionate burden of premature death and preventable illness in racial and ethnic minorities and other special populations.