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HHS unveils minority health plans

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled two strategic plans aimed at reducing health disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled two strategic plans aimed at reducing health disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups. The first outlines actions that HHS will take on its own, while the second is a common set of goals for public and private sector initiatives and partnerships.

The goals of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Health Disparities include "transforming healthcare and expanding access, building on the provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to expanded insurance coverage and increased access to care."

The plan also calls for more opportunities to increase the number of students from populations underrepresented in the health professions; train more people in medical interpretation to help serve patients who don't easily understand English; and train community workers to help people navigate the healthcare system.

In addition, HHS intends to set data standards and upgrade collection and analysis of data on race, ethnicity, primary language and other demographic categories, in accordance with the recently passed healthcare reform package.

The National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity was drafted by the National Partnership for Action, which was coordinated by the HHS Office of Minority Health. The plan incorporates suggestions from thousands of individuals and organisations and can be used by local groups to improve their work in their communities, according to HHS.

The HHS Office of Minority Health is also launching new Internet resources to provide information and tools for organisations working to reduce healthcare disparities.

"Racial and ethnic minorities still lag behind in many health outcome measures. They are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, more likely to suffer from serious illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, and when they do get sick, are less likely to have access to quality health care," HHS noted.

11th April 2011

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