Our President on Health Care Reform & Press Release

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 8, 2009 — Health Power for Minorities (Health Power®), an organization that provides health information and health promotion services for minority/multicultural health improvement, launched its nationally unique web site with a focus on the link between decreasing racial and ethnic health disparities (health disparities), and decreasing the cost of health care reform. Google lists Health Power’s web site,www.healthpowerforminorities.com, No. 1 among more than 1.8 million sources of ‘health information for minorities’. It provides authoritative, user-friendly, and culturally relevant health related information and promotion services for disease prevention, early detection and control.

Given the present national climate of conflict, confusion, and uncertainty about the financial feasibility of various health care reform proposals, the leading initial focus of Health Power’s web site is the link between decreasing health disparities in the nation, and markedly decreasing the high cost of health care, which can contribute greatly to achieving meaningful health care reform, irrespective of approach. Norma J. Goodwin, M.D., President of Health Power® and a nationally recognized minority health expert, emphasizes that “significantly decreasing health disparities in the steadily increasing national proportion of racial and ethnic populations, provides a major cost saving opportunity related to health care reform.”
The September 2009 study of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities in the United States, conducted by leading researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, found that more than 30 % of direct medical costs of African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans were excess costs due to health inequities, with more than $230 billion over a four year period. When the associated indirect costs are added, the total is 1.24 trillion.
Decreasing health disparities would also decrease the cost of medical care because diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, hypertension, and cancer are among the most costly to treat (See Our Major Killers and Disablers). For example, whereas the prevalence of obesity for all U.S. women is 31%, it is nearly 50% for Black and Hispanic women; and, in year 2000 alone, obesity-related U.S. health care costs totaled an estimated $17 billion. In fact, the prevention and control of such chronic diseases among all Americans would markedly decrease the national cost burden.

Many leading national health organizations actively advocate eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities including the: National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition (REHDC), Intercultural Cancer Council, Institute of Medicine, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Health Power.

“Clearly, without a national plan to end racial and ethnic health disparities, it is impossible to reduce health care cost, provide access to quality health care to all, and guarantee for our children a nation that remains a global leader in this millennium”, notes Fredette West, Chair, REHDC.  Dr. Goodwin also emphasizes that “an increasingly diverse workforce, if less healthy, will likely result in decreased national productivity. Further, closing the health disparities gap will also markedly close the nation’s financial gap.”
The Health Power web site, Google’s leading source of ‘health information for minorities’ provides:  information and promotion services for women, men, teens, parents and aging populations; channels for African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and American Indians; channels for preventive health and wellness including: Food and Fitness, Mental Health, and Spiritual Health; and the Our Major Killers and Disablers Channel, which addresses multiple conditions (health disparities) associated with excess illness, greater disability, and/or premature death in minority/multicultural populations.

 

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Eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities (health disparities) should be considered a national priority, not a “minority”, “multicultural” nor marginal Issue:  As the nation addresses the imperative for health care reform, multiple associated demands necessitate prioritization. Within that context, racial and ethnic health disparities merit very high priority because of their disproportionate, increasing, and in many respects avoidable and major personal, family, community and societal financial, health related,  economic, and social costs. The close link to these costs relates to the need for increased disease prevention, early disease detection, and disease control (effective treatment).
Widespread and Credible National Documentation and Advocacy for Action
U.S. racial and ethnic health disparities (health disparities) and the need to eliminate them has been widely documented and actively addressed by many highly regarded national organizations in the past decade. Citations follow.
  •  The landmark 2002 report of the Institute of Medicine “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care”, found that U.S. racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to receive unequal treatment, and experience a lower quality of health services.
  •  African-Americans have the highest prevalence of hypertension, the highest self-reported prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, and the highest rate of hospitalizations for stroke
  • Rates of diabetes are 50 to 60% higher in Cuban Americans and 110 to 120% higher in Mexican Americans than in non- Hispanic Caucasians.
  •  The prevalence of diabetes in 2004 for 65-74 year olds was 27.7 % in Blacks, 26.0% in Hispanics, and 14.9% in Whites.
  • 68 of 81 studies on healthcare comparisons found that multicultural patients experience more disparities compared to White patients
  • Multicultural populations receive lower quality health care than Caucasians even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable
  • Cancer of the prostate is higher in African American men than any other population group in the U.S.
  •  Infant Mortality Rates in 2003 for Blacks was 13.61%, as compared to 6.84% for the total U.S. population, 8.73% for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 5.70% for Whites, 5.64% for Hispanics, 4.83% for Asian-Pacific Islanders. These findings highlight (a) the diversity of health findings that may exist even among racial and ethnic  populations, and (b)the necessity for  customized approaches to education, segmented marketing, and care.
  •  Whereas the prevalence of obesity for all adult women is 31%, it is nearly 50 percent for Black, Hispanic and American Indian women.
Much additional comparative multicultural health and population data is provided in our Health and Population Trends Channel.
Regarding obesity as an example of a major racial and ethnic health disparity, its well known risk factors – especially those related to eating patterns and exercise/physical fitness –  are closely linked to (a) the striking potential cost savings of obesity prevention, and (b) the cost burden of associated chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, gallstones, arthritis and certain cancers.

 Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Medicine – Source of Landmark Report on Issue
American Cancer Society
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Medical Association
American Obesity Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Stroke Association
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Health Power for Minorities (Health Power

Major Health Care Reform Cost Savings by

Howard University College of Medicine
Intercultural Cancer Council
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
Kaiser Family Foundation
Kellogg Foundation
Latino Caucus of American Public Health Association
Meharry Medical College
Morehouse School of Medicine
National Black Nurses Association
National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Hispanic Nurses Association
National Medical Association
Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Student National Medical Association
Representative Federal Organizations

Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC)
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Indian Health Service (IHS)
National Cancer Institute, NIH
National Center for Minority Health & Health Disparities, NIH
National Heart Lung and Blood institute, NIH
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH
National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, NIH
Office of Minority Health (OMH)
Office on Women’s Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
State and Local Governmental Entities
Many state and local governmental organizations throughout the U.S. have distinct governmental components whose missions are to address well documented racial and ethnic health disparities in their respective jurisdictions. Most, however, have inadequate resources to fully respond to well documented needs.
      Need to More Actively Address ‘The 3 D’s’: Disparities   Demographics   Digitalization
More about Health Disparities
Addressing the nation’s racial and ethnic health disparitie s will significantly decrease the overall cost of medical care because the disparities that disproportionately affect multicultural populations are among the most costly diseases to treat, such as:
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
The paradox is that for a variety of reasons, many of which are controllable, multicultural populations are often more likely to:
  • engage in high risk practices which=2 0decrease the probability of disease prevention;
  • deny illness, resulting in delayed disease diagnoses and care; and
  • have decreased access to care, often with resulting inadequate treatment outcomes
The September 2009 study of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, “The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities in the United States,” that was conducted by leading researchers from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, found that over a four-year period, racial inequalities in health care access and quality added more than $50 billion a year in direct health care cost; plus more than $1 trillion dollars in indirect costs.
Since without change, current demographic and health status trends will result in many more U.S. residents requiring much=2 0more costly medical care, it is imperative that the nation’s health and medical care priorities be changed, with an increased focus on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.
Further, without an increased focus on retaining and restoring the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of multicultural populations, the nation’s increasingly diverse workforce may well become less productive because of (a) increased absenteeism; (b) sub-optimal on-the-job performance; and (c) disproportionately high employment turnover.
Changing Demographics
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2015 the n ation’s multicultural population will exceed one-third (36%) of the national population and by 2050, a majority of the U.S. population will be multicultural. Therefore, much greater attention must be given to disease=2 0prevention, early detection and control among multicultural populations.
Achieving these goals will be facilitated through the increased use of customized, user-friendly, culturally relevant and far-reaching approaches in order to improve the health status of these rapidly increasing national population segments, especially given (a) their many and diverse physical, mental and spiritual health needs; and (b) the many and expanding potential benefits, including economic productivity, which they have, and increasingly can contribute to the nation.
Digitalization and its Potential Impact of  on Health Disparities
At the same time that more and more members of mainstream America are using the Internet for health information and promotion services, there is a scarcity of customized Internet – and other digitalized – health related services for multicultural populations. Access to such services will not only help to e liminate health disparities, but also to eliminate the digital divide, a major barrier to socioeconomic advancement.
A Special Health Power Concern: If web-based and other digital multicultural interventions for preventive health and early disease detection and control are not more actively addressed,  it is likely that the current digital divide between ‘mainstream America’ and multicultural America will lead to: (a) widening of the nation’s already unacceptable racial and ethnic health disparities; and (b) many diverse communities that are burdened by the negative effects of the digital divide.

In summary, in the “Emerging Increasingly Diverse America”, the nation will benefit greatly from realizing, and acting on the reality, that the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities should be:  A National Priority, and Not a Marginal Issue.

Note: Health Power for Minorities (Health Power), a national organization, provides health information and wellness promotion services via the Internet to improve the health of minorities/multicultural populations. Google lists the nationally unique Health Power web site