Subject: 103+ million minorities suffer disparities in health care system
More struggle is necessary, lets keep it growing! Health Care Reform Now!
RACIAL DISPARITIES IN HEALTH CARE HIGH, WEEK OF JULY 16-22, 2009
by CASH MICHAELS
The Wilmington Journal
Originally posted 7/28/2009
A newly released report this week by progressive advocates for health care reform cites higher infant mortality rates, lower quality of care, and shorter life expectancies for blacks and other communities of color as just some of the reasons why they fully support President Obama's public option proposal to improve health care, and drive down costs, and provide greater access overall.
The study comes as the Senate Health committee chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) passed a $600 billion health care reform bill Wednesday. The Senate Finance Committee will now have to wrestle with how to pay for the plan. A totally different health care reform package is over in the House with a controversial surtax on the wealthy.
President Obama reiterated this week that he wants health care reform before the August Congressional recess.
The report, "Unequal Lives: Health Care Discrimination Harms Communities of Color in North Carolina," is sponsored by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a national grassroots movement of progressive organizations.
According to the study, over "103 million people of color [nationally] suffer disproportionately in the health care system." The quality of life and life expectancy for African-Americans, non-white Latinos, Native American and other communities of color is thus considerably less compared to non-Latino whites.
"Communities of color too often have fewer opportunities for regular health services, fewer treatment options, and lower-quality care. People in communities of color are also less likely to have access to comprehensive health care since they have lower incomes and higher rates of uninsurance and underinsurance," noted Dr. Leroy Darkes, director of the Rex Senior Health Center.
In North Carolina, "the infant death rate for whites is 6.3 per 1,000 live births, compared with 11.8 for African Americans," the report says. "Overall life expectancy for African Americans in North Carolina is 6 to 10 years shorter than that of whites. About 54 percent of Hispanics and 22 percent of African Americans in North Carolina are uninsured, compared with 14 percent of whites."
Tar Heel state health disparities, according to the HCAN report, are even grimmer yet:
* In North Carolina, about 14 percent of African-American adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, more than two and a half times the rate for Latinos, and more than 50 percent higher than for whites.
* Among adult African Americans in North Carolina, 10 percent have asthma, compared to 8 percent of whites and 3 percent of Latinos.
* In North Carolina, 31 percent of babies born to Latina women received no prenatal care, compared with 23 percent for African Americans and 10 percent for whites.
* The infant mortality rate for African Americans in North Carolina is more than two and a half times that of whites.
* The mortality rate for blacks in North Carolina is 20 percent higher than for whites and more than three times the rate for Latinos.
* Despite growing evidence of racial disparities in health status and medical services, no system exists in state for collecting comprehensive state and local data on disparities. As a result, many questions about the health of people of color in state remain unanswered. For example, it is not known how many African Americans or Latinos (compared to whites) have forgone care because they can't afford it.
* The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 11.1 percent of North Carolina's labor force is unemployed.
*In North Carolina, 1,547,212 people were uninsured in 2007.
*About 54 percent of Latinos in North Carolina are uninsured, almost four times the rate for whites.
*Health insurance premiums for North Carolina working families have skyrocketed, increasing 75 percent from 2000 to 2007.
*The full cost of employer-sponsored health insurance in North Carolina is projected to grow at an annual rate of 6.9 percent, compared to a 0.6 percent decrease in income.
*About 790,000 working non-elderly adults in North Carolina lack health insurance. That comprises 65 percent of the total non-elderly uninsured population.
The report's facts came from the US Census bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Public Health and Sciences.
Nationally, according to the HCAN study, "Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer account for two-thirds of all U.S. health care costs. African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and others who tend to live in neighborhoods with limited opportunities for healthful lifestyles have higher rates of all these diseases, and they fare worse in treatment. Were racial disparities absent from our society, the deaths of more than 880,000 African Americans would have been averted from 1991 to 2000, according to a recent analysis of mortality data."
"Compared to non-Latino whites, African Americans and Latinos are more likely to go without health care because they can't afford it," the report continued. "A larger share of African Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor."
"Low-income Americans and people of color always score lower in measures of preventive health, such as frequency of cancer screenings and other well-visit checkups, ''the HCAN report states." Inequities in health are accompanied by disparities in health insurance coverage. They also have the highest rates of uninsurance. The lack of quality, affordable coverage makes these populations less likely to receive medical care and more likely to fall into poor health and die early, according to government analysts.''
"The implications…," the report maintains, given that the US Census Bureau projects that 62 percent of the US population will consist of people by the year 2050, ''…are profound.''
When it comes to fixing the disparities, the HCAN report recommends:
*Coverage should be backed by adequate reimbursement rates and effective performance incentives that promote provider participation, change the inefficient behavior of doctors and hospitals, and promote improved health for people of color.
*Substantial improvements in health and life expectancy will be achieved by addressing the social determinants of health, including a clean environment, occupational safety, safe neighborhoods and access to nutritious food.
*The nation must address chronic shortages of health professionals in communities of color and marginalized populations.
* Congress should implement mechanisms to support safety-net institutions and drive quality-improvement initiatives in all health care settings.
* Stakeholders and the public should be given good data by insurers and health care providers on race, ethnicity and ethnic sub-population, socioeconomic position, primary language, age, gender, and gender identity.
HCAN recently lobbied Congress to support Pres. Obama's health care plan, and specifically pressured Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) to join the effort.
"My colleagues and I on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee have been working on a plan to reform the health care system in this country," Sen. Hagan, whose office says she was always in support of Obama's public option, said in a statement last week. "We have crafted a plan that will stabilize health care costs and includes a Community Health Insurance Option, which I support. It is a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage. Health care providers will not be required to participate, payment rates will be set in a competitive fashion, and the community health insurance option will compete on a level playing field with private health insurance plans in the gateway."
Hagan voted with the Democratic majority on the committee Wednesday to approve that measure.
Part of the pressure on Hagan came from a telephone conference call she had with NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, Lynice Williams, executive director of NC Fair Share, and community activist Stella Adams. It was during that call that it was made clear to the Guilford County Democrat that forcing private health insurers to compete with a government-run health care insurer would indeed allow more of the poor an communities of color access and the coverage that they need.
"Organizing works," declared Williams, whose NC Fair Share is one of the HCAN advocacy groups that released the report Wednesday. "It took a while, but after weeks of relentless pressure from her constituents, including busloads coming from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., Sen. Kay Hagan endorsed a strong public option."
What We Stand For
The Communist Party of Indiana CPUSA struggles for socialism: to better the lives of Indiana's working families, to protect and extend labor's ability to organize, for the needs of women, children, immigrants (documented and undocumented), the disabled, LGBT, and all people who strive for affordable quality health care, housing, and education. We stand against racism in all its forms. We stand for jobs for all. We stand for peace. We support all who struggle world wide for the dignity and self-determination of the majority of their nation's people and against imperialism, occupation, and exploitation for private profit.