Congressional Leaders to Discuss Health Care Equity and Health Reform Bill at Fourth Annual National Conference on Health Disparities

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The Fourth Annual National Conference on Health Disparities

It is now widely recognized that racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes in the U.S. are caused not only by structural inequalities in our healthcare system, but also by a wide range of social and environmental determinants of health.

A January 2008 report from the United Nations’ CERD Working Group on Health and Environmental Health concluded: “It is now widely recognized that racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes in the U.S. are caused not only by structural inequalities in our healthcare system, but also by a wide range of social and environmental determinants of health.”

Accordingly, as part of the agenda for the Fourth Annual National Conference on Health Disparities ( to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 10-13, 2010, four members of the U.S. House of Representatives will offer their perspectives on the nation’s new Health Care Reform legislation, as well as their views on how the U.S. can address the longstanding issue of bringing equity to the nation’s healthcare delivery systems.

The four congresspeople also happen to be leaders of the Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives. They include: Hon. Barbara Lee (CA), chair, Congressional Black Caucus; Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), member, Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Hon. Michael Honda, (CA), chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Hon. Chaka Fattah (PA), Black Caucus member and chair, Congressional Urban Caucus. The panel will be moderated by Hon. Donna M. Christensen (U.S.V.I.) the first female physician in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Hon. James Clyburn (SC), House Majority Whip, will offer a keynote luncheon address to conference attendees on November 12.

Also invited to make remarks to the attendees is First Lady Michelle Obama.

Assisting in providing insight on the Conference’s theme: “Reducing Health Disparities through Strengthening and Sustaining Healthy Communities,” will be a cross-section of some of the nation’s leading private and public-sector healthcare leaders, including:

  •     Dr. John Ruffin, director, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities
  •     Dr. Howard K. Koh, assistant secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  •     Reed Tucker, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group
  •     Brian D. Smedley, vice president and director, Health Policy Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
  •     Dr. Denis A. Cortese, president and CEO, Mayo Clinic
  •     Paul H. Keckley, Ph.D., executive director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions
  •     Michael A. Rashid, president and CEO, AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies
  •     Lisa Jackson, administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  •     Audrey Rowe, deputy administrator, Special Nutrition Programs, Food Nutrition Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  •     Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott, University of Pennsylvania
  •     Dr. Therman Evans, founder and CEO, Whole Life Associates, Inc.

In the wake of the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill, the news related to disparities has been moved to the center of the nation’s healthcare dialogue. Among the disparities most often cited are:

  •     A recent analysis of 1991 to 2000 mortality data concluded that had mortality rates of African Americans been equivalent to that of whites in this time period, over 880,000 deaths would have been averted.
  •     Hispanic children constitute less than one-fifth of children in the U.S., but represent more than one-third of uninsured children.
  •     For American Indians and Alaska Natives, the prevalence of diabetes is more than twice that for all adults in the United States, and for African Americans, the age-adjusted death rate from cancer was approximately 25 percent higher than for white Americans, in 2001.
  •     African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
  •     A recent study of over 300,000 patients treated at 123 hospitals across the country found that minorities were disproportionately likely to receive care in lower-quality hospitals, a problem that explained the largest share of disparities, and
  •     Poor women of color disproportionately lack prenatal care. White women are much more likely to access prenatal care in their first trimester than most women of color.

The fourth National Conference on Health Disparities has been organized in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and the Tri-Caucus Health Taskforce chairs.

The event is being supported by the Medical University of South Carolina, Morehouse School of Medicine, Lincoln University, Cheyney University, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University School of Public Health, Temple University and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.

Co-Supporters include: PhRMA, the Alliance for Digital Equality, the U.S. Department of Energy, and AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies.


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