Press Release

Groups Call on President, Congress to Address Health Disparities in Health Reform

More than 20 national health and advocacy organizations today sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders highlighting a set of legislative priorities designed to eliminate the health disparities gap that exists for racial and ethnic minorities.  The letter urges the Administration and Congress to address health disparities as part of comprehensive health reform, noting that in order for health reform to truly succeed, every person-regardless of race or ethnicity-must have equal access to quality care. 

"Every day, hospitals care for increasingly diverse communities and patients," said American Hospital Association (AHA) President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock.  "Finding ways to eliminate the gaps in access to care and quality of care for minorities is a key component to health care reform and we're pleased to help lead this important discussion."  

Included in the letter are three legislative priorities to consider during this national debate to help meet the goal of equal access to care:

  • Support improvements in health care delivery through incentives, resources and better data collection designed to eliminate disparities in health care for minority populations;
  • Develop and expand the health care workforce to improve the availability of needed nurses, doctors and other caregivers in minority and underserved communities; and
  • Eliminate other barriers to access for minorities by providing coverage and access to care for all, resources to address the factors that contribute to the disparities gap and training to help health care providers deliver culturally competent care.

The priorities grew out of the work of the AHA Special Advisory Group on Improving Hospital Care for Minorities and were embraced by 24 national advocacy groups.  The letter points to U.S. Census Bureau projections which show that by 2050, nearly half of all Americans will identify themselves as racial or ethnic minorities.  It also cites the 2003 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Unequal Treatment, which found that minority populations have been left behind in access to timely, quality health care services and positive health outcomes.

The AHA Special Advisory Group on Improving Hospital Care for Minorities, comprising a variety of stakeholders, was created in 2007 to study ways to improve hospital care and eliminate disparities among minority populations.  A goal of the group is to ensure that racial and ethnic minorities have a voice in the national debate on health care reform. 

The organizations that signed the letter are:   
American Hospital Association, AIDS Action, Aetna, American Academy of Nursing, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Association of Pastoral Counselors, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Association of Language Companies, Child Welfare League of America, Japanese Americans Citizens League, National Association of Counties, National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Black Nurses Association, National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nursing Organizations, National Health Law Program, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Immigration Law Center, National Medical Association, National Urban League and National Women's Law Center.

For a copy of the letter, click here.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at www.aha.org.

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