National Health Care Disparities Report

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday in a “National Health Care Disparities Report” that severe and pervasive disparities in care persist.

“Today, minority patients still receive disproportionately poor care compared to Caucasian patients,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in remarks prepared for delivery to the AFSCME Nurses Congress.

Sebelius told the 300 nurses gathered in Washington that the administration is focused on health care basics: “reducing costs, ensuring choice, focusing care on prevention and wellness, and covering all Americans.”

“We know the costs of inaction are too high,” Sebelius said. “And so do you. Nurses see all the problems with our health care system: You see families struggling to pay for care, and choosing to avoid needed care because they can’t afford it; you see families reeling from high medical bills; you see patients denied coverage they need because the insurance companies decide it’s not necessary, when you and the doctor know it is.”

HHS is also releasing a “National Health Care Quality Report” on Wednesday. The secretary said it found that “40 percent of recommended care is not received by patients.”

“In addition, prevention measures are lacking. Only half of obese adults and children are given advice to exercise more and eat a healthy diet,” she reported. “Perhaps most troubling was the decline in patient safety measures identified in the quality report, which have worsened each year for the past six years. .

“The Recovery Act includes $50 million to help prevent health care associated infections, and I am pleased to announce that the Department of Health and Human Services is making these funds available today.

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