Monday, April 16, 2012

April is National Minority Health Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is commemorating National Minority Health Month by encouraging Town Halls and hosting events throughout the month to raise awareness of the disparities that exist in health care. While the average quality of health care has risen over the past few decades, disparities to health care access and quality of care have not improved. In a press release, HHS highlights how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already improved health disparities by providing coverage to previously uninsured minorities and eliminating co-pays or deductibles for some essential preventative services.

During last year’s Minority Health Month, HHS announced its first initiative solely focused on resolving disparities to health care access. The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities builds on the Affordable Care Act and other existing strategies, such as Healthy People 2020, to reduce health disparities among minorities. The report outlines where and why health disparities exist and carries five policy goals to remove those disparities: Transform Health Care; Strengthen the Nation’s Health and Human Services Infrastructure and Workforce; Advance the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of the American People; Advance Scientific Knowledge and Innovation; and Increase Efficiency, Transparency, and Accountability of HHS Programs. Under these five goals, HHS highlights specific actions useful to policy makers at every level of government. The report provides comprehensive strategies that policymakers can take to improve quality of care not only for minorities, but ultimately for everyone who needs health care.  

Following the message behind their Action Plan, the theme for this year’s Minority Health Month is “Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act Now in Your CommUnity” to emphasize the importance of community-based initiatives in improving access to and quality of health care.  For more information on events for this month, visit the HHS Office of Minority Health’s website.

The National Institute of Health is also celebrating the month through its first NIH Minority Health Promotion Day, sponsored by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, on April 19th. Various exhibits and speakers will present how social and economic factors contribute to and maintain health disparities in our health care system.

For state policymakers, Minority Health Month provides a great opportunity to raise awareness around the importance of quality health care access and a good time to promote efforts to improve that access in communities across the states.  For results based policy solutions to ensure that all children are healthy, visit  

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