As part of National Minority Health Month, the U.S. Department of Health Human Services’ Office of Minority Health hosted a community town hall event in Washington, D.C., on Monday night to underscore the need to reduce health disparities among minorities. This year’s theme — Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act Now in Your CommUNITY — is a call to action and unity for all the organizations and partners involved and invested in eliminating health disparities.
Speaking at the event, Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health, and J. Nadine Gracia, the new acting deputy assistant secretary for minority health, discussed progress made under the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities since it was first created one year ago.
Through the plan, Gracia wrote today in a blog post, “We are transforming health care by reducing disparities in health insurance coverage and access to primary care services; we are strengthening the health and human services’ workforce by improving the cultural competency and increasing the diversity of the public health and health care workforces; we are advancing the health and well-being of the American people by investing in community-based programs to reduce disparities; and we are advancing scientific knowledge by conducting research and implementing new data collection standards to better understand health disparities and design effective programs to reduce disparities.”
This month also marks the first anniversary the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity, which serves as roadmap for eliminating health disparities through cooperative and strategic actions.
According to Gracia, “These initiatives build on the Affordable Care Act — the landmark health care law signed by President Obama two years ago. The new health care law sets forth one of the most significant policies to reduce health disparities in our nation’s history, and already millions of Americans — including racial and ethnic minorities — are benefitting from the new law.”
The Office of Minority Health was created in 1986 and reauthorized by the Affordable Care Act.