A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Disparities Council Recap

Disparities Council Recap

October 27, 2009

The Health Disparities Council held its monthly meeting on Monday. Chaired by Representative Rushing and EOHHS Secretary Bigby, the members focused on legislative opportunities to address health disparities in Massachusetts. Public Health Committee Chair Jeffrey Sanchez opened the meeting with a report on recently moved bills S.810 and S. 811, that codify the EOHHS level Office of Health Equity and establish community based disparities grants. The Representative emphasized the Committee’s dedication to health equity and the need for Council support and advocacy to maintain momentum for the legislation. Disparities Action Network (DAN) Co Chair Elmer Freeman also reported on the legislation, providing additional details on the bills and current advocacy efforts. Secretary Bigby thanked the Public Health Committee Co Chairs for the legislation’s progress, and acknowledged the advocacy support of the DAN. The Disparities Council voted and approved a new working group to monitor and advocate for legislation such as S.810, that support the Council’s mission and efforts. The Council continued engagement in legislative matters with two presentations and a discussion on the state’s emerging work on payment reform. After an overview of the Health Care Cost and Quality Council’s roadmap by Katherine Shea Barrett, Health Care For All’s Georgia Maheras provided a consumer framework for the payment reform challenge. She highlighted issues of particular relevance to the Council including medical homes, workforce development, social determinants of health and consumer engagement. Members posed questions and discussed issues around disincentives to treat high risk patients, payments for mental health and medical interpretation services, and malpractice reform. The Council agreed to further discussions and possible advocacy through the newly developed legislative working group. The Council holds its next meeting on November 16th from 2pm-4pm. Please visit the Health Disparities Council webpage for more information. Camille Watson