Clinton Plan Would Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Gap In Health
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 21) -- President Bill Clinton is asking Congress to devote $400 million over the next five years to eliminating racial and ethnic disparities by 2010 in key health areas, including infant deaths and diabetes.
The money would be used to assess current programs, improve data collection and assist local prevention programs, Clinton said Saturday during his weekly radio address.
"No matter what the reason, racial and ethnic disparities in health are unacceptable in a country that values equality and equal opportunity for all," Clinton said.
The plan also calls for establishing an outreach campaign to mobilize local communities, churches, physicians and nurses and other community-based programs to join the federal effort.
Though AIDS death rates are down and childhood immunization levels are at an all-time high, "we must not be blind to the alarming fact that too many Americans still do not share in the fruits of our progress," Clinton said.
"Nowhere are the divisions of race and ethnicity more sharply
drawn than in the health of our people."
Administration targets six areas
Newly installed Surgeon General David Satcher and former New York City Health Commissioner Peggy Hamburg are in charge of the project. Satcher told reporters he soon will announce the 30 communities chosen for participation.
The administration is targeting six areas in which there are stark differences in health statistics along racial lines:
- Infant mortality. Black children die in infancy at a rate 2.5 times higher than whites, and American Indian infants 1.5 times higher.
- Diabetes. Incidences of diabetes among Hispanics are twice the national average and three times above the national average for Native Americans. Black people report 70 percent higher rates of the disease than whites.
- Cancer screening and management. Black men under 65 are
diagnosed with prostate cancer at nearly twice the rate of white men; Vietnamese women get cervical cancer at nearly five times the rate of white women; and Latinos have two to three times the rate of stomach cancer reported by the rest of the population. Also, Chinese-Americans are four to five times as likely to have liver cancer than the population at large.
- Heart disease. Black men suffer from the condition at nearly twice the rate of white males.
- HIV/AIDS. Seventy-five percent of all AIDS cases among women and children are minority cases. And from 1995 to 1996, the overall death rate declined 23 percent, but among blacks, the death rate fell only 13 percent.
- Immunization. Just 20 percent of black adults get the vaccine for pneumonia, compared with 35 percent of white adults.
NAACP, several Hispanic groups support plan
Clinton's plan drew a broad cross-section of support from groups representing minorities, including the NAACP and several Hispanic organizations.
Clinton also announced that Grantmakers in Health, a coalition of more than 136 philanthropic foundations across the country, will join the effort.
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala emphasized the health goals would be measurable, and the administration would give annual progress reports.
The administration will also seek private-sector help,
She cited past projects where McDonald's printed childhood
immunization information on their restaurant tray liners, where Pampers diapers helped get the word out on children's health insurance and where Gerber baby foods did outreach about preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
"We can't wait for everybody in this country to get good health insurance," Shalala said. "When you really want to close a health care gap and you do not have a single health care system, you go to every part of the country and have everybody pull in the same direction."
The federal money would be divided between the 30 communities chosen to develop model outreach programs and the federal Centers for Disease C