WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today joined U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the National Press Club to unveil the department’s road map for eliminating health care disparities in our nation, the most comprehensive federal effort to date to address gaps in health and health care affecting America’s racial and ethnic minorities.
The Senator addressed the crowd at this morning’s event, which was headlined by Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Sherry Glied, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Garth Graham, and was attended by hundreds of stakeholders.
Senator Cardin authored the Affordable Care Act provisions to establish Offices of Minority Health in six agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and elevate the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to an Institute. The new law clarifies the role of the new Institute Director as coordinator and manager of the NIH-wide minority health and health disparities portfolio, and provides the new Institute with professional judgment over NIH-wide minority health and health disparities budgets and funding.
“Health disparities exact an enormous human and economic toll on our nation. Our overall health status clearly depends on our ability to improve the health of our fastest-growing communities and eliminate the disparities that are evidenced by higher rates of infant mortality and debilitating diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” said Senator Cardin. “For too long in this nation, being a member of a minority group in this country has meant less access to care, less treatment, and less research focused on conditions that affect you. We now have the roadmap and the tools to change that.”
The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities represents an unprecedented coordinated strategy to bring about health equity.