Health equity of america by jolinmilioncherie

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									                    Bringing Fairness Back to Our Health System
Having an insurance card often makes the difference between whether or not one has access to
health care. The Affordable Care Act will make major strides toward ensuring that the vast
majority of Americans have access to affordable health insurance, and millions Latinos are
expected to benefit. But the job isn’t finished yet. Particularly in the Latino community, there
are those who will be left out of health care reform and others who, even with health coverage,
do not have access to high-quality health care or services. In fact, the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality (AHRQ) has provided ample evidence that Hispanics are more likely than
other Americans to be sicker, die younger, and suffer needless medical conditions because of
inferior medical care and services. Every year since AHRQ has issued the National Health Care
Disparities Report, gaps between Hispanics and Whites have widened. In 2010, the dire
situation continued, with Latinos receiving lower-quality care in 60% of core measures and
having worse access in 83% of core measures.1

The good news is that the commitment to fix our health care system did not stop with the
Affordable Care Act. With the support of lead sponsor Representative Barbara Lee (D–CA), the
Congressional Tri-Caucus has introduced the “Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011
(HEAA)” (H.R. 2954). Along with hundreds of civil rights organizations, consumer advocates,
and health provider networks, NCLR strongly supports this comprehensive bill, which has two
major points of action. First, “HEAA” builds on reform by eliminating unfair restrictions to
health coverage in the new health care system. Second, it promotes greater health equity by
investing in solutions that narrow gaps by addressing the root causes of poor health outcomes in
racial/ethnic and other communities.

The “Health Equity and Accountability Act” promotes health equity and builds on reform
for Latino and immigrant families by:

      Reducing obstacles to insurance for legal and undocumented immigrants by removing the
       federal five-year bar from Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare and by removing barriers to
       unsubsidized purchase of private health insurance in Exchanges for all Americans
      Promoting workforce diversity and training by fully funding programs that will expand
       the health professions and emphasize culturally and linguistically appropriate training
      Improving the collection of data on a number of disparities by looking at race, ethnicity,
       primary language, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, and disability. The bill
       also assesses how to advance data collection in vulnerable immigrant families
      Supporting community-based strategies that address social, economic, and environmental
       factors, known as social determinants of health, which contribute to health disparities in
       communities of color
       Strengthening health information technology initiatives in communities of color and other
        medically underserved areas to improve quality of care
       Promoting research and initiatives that address health conditions disproportionately
        affecting Latinos and other communities of color, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes
       Expanding health care access and quality for rural areas, many of which are home to
        migrant or farmworker communities, by creating demonstration grants and establishing
        initiatives such as the Rural Community Hospital program and Rural Health Centers

The changes proposed by “HEAA” are essential to our health care system because:

       Health inequity is expensive. America’s pocketbook cannot afford to keep health
        disparities in place. Research shows that inequities in health care for communities of
        color led, over three years, to direct medical costs of more than $230 billion and indirect
        expenditures of $1.24 billion.2 Allowing health disparities to worsen is like throwing
        money out of the bank.
       We should be making it easier for people to get health care coverage, not harder.
        We know that people who go without health insurance end up suffering over time—
        enduring preventable illness, losing productivity in their work and communities, and even
        falling victim to premature death. We should be doing everything in our power to
        remove barriers to health insurance: getting rid of restrictions that keep immigrants from
        paying for full-priced insurance and removing the arbitrary wait times that stand in the
        way of coverage for legal immigrants.
       Your health is more than an insurance card. H.R. 2954 recognizes that achieving
        health equity is more than getting a doctor’s note. We must address community
        infrastructure, poverty, and other social, economic, and environmental factors outside of
        health coverage that have a negative impact on health outcomes for communities of color.
        “HEAA” takes us down this road by looking at how we build up prevention and
        community programs to stop disparities where they start.

To find out more about health care reform and to see what NCLR has been doing to improve
health care for Latinos, go to www.nclr.org/healthcareforall and www.nclr.org/HCRBasics. For
more information, contact members of the Health Policy Project:

       Jennifer Ng’andu, Deputy Director, at (202) 776-1762 or jngandu@nclr.org
       Kara Ryan, Senior Research Analyst, at (202) 776-1703 or kryan@nclr.org
       Sergio Eduardo Muñoz, Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 776-1562 or semunoz@nclr.org

1
  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report
(Washington, DC: AHRQ, 2010).
2
  Thomas A. LaViest, PhD, et al., The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities in the United States (Washington,
DC: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 2009).

								
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