A Healthy Blog

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

Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

Notes from the National Disparities Conference in SC

Over three days last week, Charleston, South Carolina hosted hundreds of health care providers, researchers, and advocates for the National Conference on Health Disparities. The city deeply rooted in a history of slave trade and Jim Crow provided a complex backdrop for a dialogue about racial health inequalities. U.S. Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) brought the conference to Charleston and spoke passionately about the policies and programs needed to address startling gaps in health care education, access and quality, which persist despite progress in ending legal discrimination. U.S Senator... Read more »

Quality/Cost Council Announce 2008 Goals

Yesterday, the Quality and Cost Council met to approve annual goals for FY08 to improve quality and lower costs. Here's their press release: The Health Care Quality and Cost Council (HCQCC) yesterday announced its first set of annual statewide goals for improving the quality and controlling the cost of health care in Massachusetts. The Council, created through the 2006 health care reform law, establishes statewide measures to improve health care quality, contain health care costs, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care. By 2012, the HCQCC seeks to ensure that Massachusetts... Read more »

MA Disparities Efforts Get National Notice

FamiliesUSA has released a new case study: Confronting Disparities While Reforming Health Care: A Look at Massachusetts. It's a review of the parts of the MA health reform law, chapter 58, that address racial and ethnic health disparities. And it's a look at the current efforts to pass comprehensive legislation to address racial and ethnic health disparities in Massachusetts, spearheaded by the Disparities Action Network. Another important lesson to be learned from the DAN is that policy is a tool that minority health advocates can and should use to help eliminate health disparities. Read more »

PA Gov. Rendell Sets Up "Office of Health Equity"

PA Gov. Ed Rendell is getting quite active on health policy in a number of positive ways. His health access expansion initiative is getting beaten up in the Legislature, but it's a good plan and a good starting point for a state that has never been active in this arena. Now he's setting up an Office of Health Equity to develop a comprehensive approach to eliminate racial and ethnic (and other) health disparities. He's also launching a statewide chronic illness initiative. Click here for the Governor's two executive orders. Here in Massachusetts, HCFA and other organizations part of the... Read more »

NJ Puts of Blueprint to Eliminate Disparities

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and his Department of Health and Human Services have just released a 104 page Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities in New Jersey. Fantastic document. Great information and analysis. Great plan of action. Have not seen anything like this for Massachusetts. How about it? Read more »

Desperately Seeking Disparities: Not So Hard to Find, Even in MA

Kaiser’s always useful http://statehealthfacts.org just provided several updates of key health and health care indicators by race/ethnicity and state. We’re always drawn to the MA data, of course, to see what pops out. Here are some observations from their latest update: Infant Mortality: MA looks mighty darn good. #2 among the 50 states (New Hampshire beats us – 4.3 deaths per 1,000 live births vs. 4.9). We are #3 for African Americans – that’s the good news; the bad news is the rate for African Americans is more than twice as high as that of Whites: 9.5 vs. 4.4. And here’s a surprise... Read more »

MA Health Reform and Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities

On WBUR's Commonhealth blog, Elmer Freeman from the Center for Community Health, Education, Research and Services (CHERS) makes the necessary and appropriate connection between MA health reform and racial/ethnic health disparities. Chapter 58 called for the creation of a permanent council on disparities under the umbrella of the Executive Office of Health & Human Services. Freeman reports that Sect. JudyAnn Bigby is now moving to set up this Council, something the Romney Administration chose not to do. Good move by Sect. Bigby. And click here for info on the Disparities legislation... Read more »

March Madness -- Fasten Seat Belts

Busy, busy month ahead with some huge decisions looming – not least of which is the Connector Board Meeting on 3/20 where they are supposed to decide on standards for “minimally creditable coverage” and affordability parameters to determine who gets penalized for non-coverage under the Individual Mandate. Fasten your seat belts – this ride may get bumpy. Patient Safety Awareness Week: March 4-10, 2007 The National Patient Safety Foundation designates this week to raise awareness about safety. HCFA is taking part with a legislative briefing. If you want to raise awareness or organize an event... Read more »

New National Reports on Quality, Disparities

Every year since 2003, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released national report cards on the progress of the US health care system in improving quality and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. We just learned of the release of the 2006 reports -- didn't see reports anywhere. These are good benchmark reports and worth reviewing by folks interested in either/both policy areas. Click here for access to the quality report. Click here to access the disparities report. Read more »

Dr. JudyAnn Bigby Named Sect. of Health & Human Services

Gov. Deval Patrick has named Dr. JudyAnn Bigby to be his Secretary of Health & Human Services. Dr. Bigby is an internist at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston (she is Mayor Tom Menino's personal physician), where she is also medical director of the Center for Perinatal and Family Health. She is also faculty member at Harvard Medical School where she serves as director of the Harvard Medical School Center of Excellence in Women's Health. She has a long history of working in behalf of the medically underserved; she's a long time leader in efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic... Read more »


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