HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued the following statement on new reports on health care quality and health care disparities faced by racial, ethnic or income groups. The new reports – the 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report and the National Healthcare Quality Report – were released today by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
“Today’s reports demonstrate why passing health reform was so critical,” said Sebelius. “In 2009, healthcare associated infections increased and minorities were less likely to have insurance and less likely to get the treatments they needed. In a reformed system, more Americans will get the care they need, regardless of their race or ethnicity and the quality of care will improve. The numbers we saw today are troubling, but ultimately, reform will help turn these numbers around.”
According to the 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report, Americans with no insurance are much less likely then those with private insurance to obtain recommended care, especially preventive services. In addition, while some racial differences in lack of insurance have narrowed in the past decade, disparities related to ethnicity, income, and education remain large. Under health care reform, families have a guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if they lose their jobs, switch jobs, move, or become sick. Health reform provides premium tax credits to those who can’t afford insurance, which will significantly reduce disparities in accessing high-quality health care.
The 2009 Report also found that among the most prevailing disparity was the lack of preventive care. For example, many minorities had worsening disparities in the percentage of adults over age 50 who received appropriate screening for colon cancer. Also, African Americans and Hispanics had increasing death rates from the disease. The new health care reform law ensures that Americans have access to the free preventive services they need to create a system that prevents diseases before they require more costly treatment.
The National Healthcare Quality Report notes that very little progress has been made on eliminating health care-associated infections (HAIs), with rates of many HAIs increasing in the past year. Reform will improve the quality of care for all Americans through new incentives that reward quality over quantity of care.
The 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report, and its companion2009 National Healthcare Quality Report, are available at http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr09.htm, by calling 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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