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The Tally Ho

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Dying For Basic Care

Last week The Washington Post writer January W. Payne reported that
More than 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if African Americans had received the same care as whites, according to an analysis in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The study estimates that technological improvements in medicine -- including better drugs, devices and procedures -- averted only 176,633 deaths during the same period.

That means "five times as many lives can be saved by correcting the disparities [in care between whites and blacks] than in developing new treatments," Steven H. Woolf, lead author and director of research at Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Family Medicine, said in a telephone interview...

...Reduced access to health care doesn't account for all the racial disparity in preventable deaths. Blacks have greater incidence of some diseases; some of this greater morbidity results from education, income level and environment as well as access to health care. The challenge, the authors said, is to deliver the same quality health care to everyone, despite these factors.

One of the Healthy People 2010 goals -- the nation's health priorities for the decade -- is to eliminate such inequities in health care. Satcher said some steps, such as the creation of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health, have already been taken, but more needs to be done.

"Access to care is a big factor. African Americans and Hispanics are much more likely to be uninsured and underinsured and underserved" and may not seek care as often as whites, Satcher said. "So a great part of it is really focusing on how do we get prevention programs, intervention programs [and] treatment programs to people in underserved communities?"

Sadly, I don't see this administration using its "mandate" (cough, hack) to address access to proper health care, the disparity in wealth, or addressing equity in access to services - or expanding services. Their successful war on fiscal responsibility has made so much seemingly impossible politically. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are being left behind.


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